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‘Horse-trading’ politicians delay appointments

December 12, 2013

FMT LETTER: From Jeffrey Phang, via e-mail

The Coalition for Good Governance (CGG) would like to respond to a Malaysiakini article, ‘Teng: NGOs jumped the gun over Selangor councilors’ published on Dec 8, 2013. The term for councilors ends on Dec 31, 2013 and CGG acted when we were informed through media reports that more NGO councilors will be dropped.

Our statement was endorsed by Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower), Friends of Kota Damansara (FoKD), Pusat Komunikasi Masyarakat (Komas), Persatuan Sahabat Wanita, Selangor (PSWS), Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ), and Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor & Wilayah Persekutuan (Permas).

In 2008, there were significantly more NGO councilors than the present ones currently serving. Two among the few remaining NGO councilors Derek Fernandez and Anthony Thanasayan both possess expertise useful not only MBPJ but also to other councils. Derek is a specialist in local government laws while Anthony is keenly aware of the rights issue of the OKU community and animal welfare.

The delay in appointing councilors is not new. It occurred last year and now it is confirmed that the deadline has been postponed to Jan 31, 2014. This delay will inconvenience operations of the council as well as disrupt efficient service to the public.

More serious and of concern is the reason for the delay – Horse Trading among the politicians! This yearly flexing of muscles by politicians has delayed the submission of lists. We are concerned that the councilors so appointed are those who can exert the strongest pressure on their chosen politicians because of their “help” rendered towards their political cause.

This appointment system also has no checks and balances as incidents were reported to the State Government of councilors working against the community and abusing the poor. No action was taken. This obligation to reward has made the current system of councilor appointments a public spectacle of hypocrisy for a government that boasts of Competency, Accountability & Transparency (CAT).

With 12 local councils needing 24 councilors and one councilor appointed by the Sultan, 25% of the total remaining 276 councilors will work out to 69 NGO councilors. For the record, we would like to request a list of councilors in all Selangor councils under the NGO sector. We will revert to you and let you know how many on the list have a legitimate track record within the NGO circle.

I hope the above points will explain our position that the CGG has not jumped the gun and has been extremely patient for the last five years watching the erosion of our NGO quota and the sincerity of election promises. The appointment of councilors is now a test of honesty and sincerity of the Selangor government to engage public participation and practice CAT.

On another note, many of the points raised in the article is new to us. We welcome the presence of the guidelines but copies were not sent to NGOs. CGG had been active in advocating local council elections and one of our members had also received a grant from the Selangor government to work out an implementation plan for local council elections. A detailed discussion between State and CGG was carried out with the plan of implementing a trial local council election in MBPJ. The discussion was broken off by the State Government with no explanation.

On the nomination of councilors by NGOs, we cannot be expected to nominate someone when no invitation had been sent to us for us to do so. For the record, we look forward to receiving an invitation. Please send the letter to CGG Secretariat c/o Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower), 13, Lorong 4/48E, 46050 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.

For the guidelines, we cannot be expected to request for them when we do not even know it exists. For the record, we would be contacting UPEN to request for the guidelines.

For the retention of NGO councilors, we would like to refer to the statement about implementing the four-year term limit. We are of the opinion that it is unwise to implement such a policy. Many of the councils are lacking good quality councilors and in accordance with Talent Management, as good councilors who are outstanding should be used to spread the expertise around.

To retire them when they are still useful based on the premise of being fair is actually unfair to the residents. Every new term will see new individuals going through their learning process and by the time they learn enough to be useful they are retired. You can practice this rotation when councils are overflowing with talents then we will agree that it is good to make way for new individuals.

On the subject of local council elections in 2014, we would like to stress that it cannot be implemented just as a scheduled exercise. There is much to be done in capacity building of the public and other ground work needed to prepare for local council elections. Local council elections will eliminate all the above issues and will also give us back the 3rd voice.

We would like to put on record that we are looking forward to receiving an action plan for local council elections 2014. This is a work that CGG has started since 2008 and we would be more than pleased to receive an invitation to start this discussion.

The Coalition of Good Governance (CGG), comprising 55 endorsing NGOs, was established in 2008


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