We call on the Health Minister to ascertain as soon as possible
whether the RM500-million Temerloh Hospital will be dangerous to
patients because the Project Hospital Temerloh Sendirian Berhad (PHTSB)
has obtained the Certificate of Practical Completion (CPC) without
satisfactory contractual compliance
- at the DAP Forum on Local Government Elections
by Tan Kok Wai
(Kuala Lumpur, Sunday): When Malaysians talk about their local councils, they often get very upset, frustrated and angry at the way they are treated by local councilors.
In Malaysia, local councilors often forget they are the people’s servants and their job is to serve the rakyat. Because they are appointed, there is no reason for them to discharge their duties to the best of their abilities. There is no reason for them to be accountable for their actions and decisions, no matter how bad and unreasonable those decisions are.
This is why we have uncountable examples of blatant abuse of power and misuse of public money by various councils. A few examples are as follows:
These are just a few examples of what our local councils get up to with taxpayers’ money. Enough is enough, we say. We demand a say in the running of the local councils.
The fact is, even when the opposition exposes any abuse of power or misuse of money in a local council, nothing happens to the parties responsible! These crooks have wasted millions of taxpayers’ money and they still get to keep their job. That’s why they are not afraid. In other more democratic countries, these councilors would surely have to face the music.
Problems at the community or grassroots level can only be resolved with active participation from the local community, who are the ones directly affected by them.
The DAP firmly believes that local government elections will encourage and promote political awareness and education among the people as they will have more of a vested interest in their quality of life, if they have the chance to decide what goes on around them and the community they live and work in.
In addition, this dispersal of political power will be a healthy move as it diminishes the tendency of the state administration towards centralization and authoritarianism.
If local authorities are proactive and innovative, many societal problems in the areas of health, housing, welfare, schools, public transport, pollution, waste disposal, crime and corruption can be better handled and tackled.
The inclusion of the people in the decision-making process at the local level is at the core of what Local Agenda 21 (or LA21) is about. LA 21 basically is a plan of action on how local governments can work with businesses and the local community to discuss and identify strategies to improve their city and achieve a higher quality of life for all, including the future generation.
Agenda 21 was born out of the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Malaysia was a signatory to that summit and to the Johannesburg Summit in 2002, both of which discussed ways to promote sustainable development. Sustinable development is basically development that takes into consideration the environment, promotes equality for all people and ensures that future generations can meet their own needs.
LA21 is about putting into practice the principles of Agenda 21 but at the local level. There were four Pilot LA21 projects which were introduced in Malaysia
These pilot projects have been a farce and a joke. There has been no plan of action or strategies to involve the rakyat in any decision-making processes. There has been no attempt whatsoever to include the rakyat in any discussions or consultations with the relevant authorities.
So where do we go from here?. It’s clear that the only way to make our local councils efficient, effective, accountable and responsible is by demanding the restoration of local government elections.
But no matter how hard the DAP pushes this agenda, in the end it is up to the people who must stand up for their rights and be counted. There is no point in moaning and groaning. Only the people can get the message across to the PM. However long and hard this journey may be, we need to go forward in a united and committed way.
It may seem impossible and arduous but we have to try. The smallest deed is greater than the grandest intention. At the end of the day, it is our duty as responsible and patriotic citizens to demand what is rightfully ours, and that we are the only ones who can decide what our quality of life will be and that of future generations.
* Tan Kok Wai, MP for Cheras and Chairman of DAP National Committee on the Restoration of Local Government Elections