Zuraida under fire for ‘appointing own local councillors’

An NGO has questioned whether local government minister Zuraida Kamaruddin was overstepping her powers.

PETALING JAYA: A local government group has questioned a decision by Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin to appoint community mobilisers in local councils and suggested she might be overstepping her ministerial role.

The ministry has said a National Community Policy had been developed, to “foster harmony and self-sufficiency” among local communities.

However, the Gabungan Demokrasi Tempatan group questioned if the move to appoint the representatives (known as PEKT) was an abuse of power for political gain.

The group’s steering committee said the Federal Constitution set out different roles for the federal and state governments.

The group said the appointment of “its own councillors” was beyond the ministry’s original role, which was only to look after all laws pertaining to local governments’ implementation of town council functions, regarding housing, landscaping and solid waste management, among others.

The group, known as Dekat, is in favour of all local councillors being elected by ratepayers through local council elections. At present councillors in all local authorities are appointed.

“Zuraida has to explain to the public her justification for such targeted appointments and the total budget allocated to the community policy,” the group said.

It noted that the 21 local authorities in which the community representatives would be appointed were in states controlled by Pakatan Harapan.

The group urged all state governments to protest against the ministry’s decision, while the (PH-controlled) state governments of Selangor, Negeri Sembilan and Penang should take legal action against Zuraida and her ministry to stop such actions.

It also called for the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to launch an investigation into Zuraida on grounds of abuse of power.