Time to do away with FT ministry, says local council expert

Khalid Samad took over the Federal Territories Ministry from Tengku Adnan Mansor. A local council expert says the ministry is redundant.

PETALING JAYA: A local council expert has called on Putrajaya to review having a Federal Territories (FT) ministry, saying it is redundant and an inefficient use of taxpayers’ funds as it overlaps the local authorities’ roles and functions.

Lawyer Derek Fernandez said the weak governance which comes with having an FT ministry is clear in the Kuala Lumpur City Plan 2020 (KLCP 2020).

That plan, he said, was gazetted by the new administration with 273 deviations from the draft without public consultation.

“Most of the 273 deviations were never even proposed in the draft in the first place.

“The launch of the draft KL Structure Plan 2040 is now questionable because the credibility of the KLCP 2020 is in doubt,” he told FMT.

Fernandez said the federal territories – Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan – had their own governance structures like local councils, namely Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), Perbadanan Putrajaya and Perbadanan Labuan.

“From a good governance and public administration perspective, there is no need to have an FT ministry,” he said, adding that the respective governance structures can operate independently.

“In fact, the existence of this ministry with powers to override and instruct the KL mayor on specific matters actually interferes with the mayor’s ability to carry out his functions properly.”

Derek Fernandez says the federal territories have their own local councils.

He said the best way to ensure checks and balances was not having an FT minister that can override the mayor but having a governance structure where no one person had too much power.

“If you look at other local councils, they have one mayor and 24 councillors who make decisions by majority vote to ensure power is not concentrated in one person’s hands.”

But in DBKL’s case, he said, it had no councillors or other persons with voting power, and because of its structure, the mayor actually had to take instructions from the FT minister.

Fernandez said that ideally, the mayor and councillors should be elected to best ensure accountability and transparency in local government decision making.

“But in any case, with most local councils, the state governments as well as the housing and local government ministry provide oversight. DBKL should follow this same structure,” he said, adding that KL MPs could also assist in providing oversight.

“There is also a need for better public participation in the decision making process and access to information which is generally lacking,” he said.