Ong Ka Ting, as usual, evades the issue of local elections
by Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew
The minister of housing and local government Datuk Seri Ong Ka
Ting sees no urgency in discussing the issue of local government elections.
He was quoted as saying " that's not my decision. It's up to the government.
My ministry alone cannot make a statement on the government's position".
When he was asked why he has not raised the issue, he told the reporters
that he would discuss it at the right time and right forum.
No one expects Ong Ka Ting alone can lift the ban on local elections after
it was suspended during the Indonesian Confrontation in 1965. But as a
minister, who's holding the portfolio for local government, he should be the
one in the government to respond to the call for the restoration of local
elections. Or unless he gives up his position as a minister of housing and
The call for local elections becomes louder these days, as local councils in
general are inefficient, unprofessional and always fail to provide good
service to the locals.
Recent incidents such as the approval of expensive new attire (RM4, 000 a
set of Baju Melayu/ Baju Kurung and songkok) for Klang Municipal Council
councillors and heads of departments, the repeating flash floods of Kuala
Lumpur, the Kajang Municipal Council's ban on sale of pork in open-air
markets, harassment of young couples for holding hands by the Ipoh City Hall
and KL City Hall, and the Abdul Kudus scandal of Ampang Jaya Municipal
Council, the compulsory dustbins imposed by the Selayang Municipal Council
have all led to criticism of the appointment system in local governments.
There are practically no accountability, transparency and checks and
balances in the current appointment system. Even Ong Ka Ting has no power to
check on the performance of local council heads and councillors, as the
menteri besars and chief ministers of the respective states appointed all
DAP Selangor had presented a memorandum on the restoration of local
elections to Ong Ka Ting 16 June this year. We were expecting Ong to display
some leadership quality in dealing with the issue, instead of running away
from his duty and responsibility.
But this is not the first time Ong was playing evasive game on issues
concerning his ministry or his position as an MCA leader. He has been
evading issues such as the Broga incinerator, the closure of SJKC Damansara,
the stoppage of Shah Alam Catholic church, the questionable Chang Min Thien
Foundation and MCA JE Humanitarian Fund, the shortage of Chinese schools and
teachers, and the triad politics in MCA, just to mention a few.
* Ronnie Liu Tian
Khiew, DAP national publicity secretary