Ong Ka Ting, as usual, evades the issue of local elections


Press Statement
by Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew

(Petaling Jaya, Thursday):  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 local government.

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 these positions.

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