Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Three months on, Selangor councillors list still not finalised

The Star - June 3, 2008

THE Selangor government’s delay in finalising the list of councillors for the 12 local authorities in the state is causing unnecessary problems.

It has been almost three months since the general election yet the new list of 288 councillors for Selangor has yet to be finalised. StarMetro has learnt that all local authorities in Selangor were supposed to have conducted swearing-in ceremonies yesterday, but at the last minute, the state government called it off.

Legal mind: Fernandez is among those tipped for a spot.

“This is ridiculous. The councillors should have been sworn in at the end of April or May at the latest. We do not understand why the state government is delaying the announcement,” an officer in the Shah Alam City Council said on condition of anonymity.

Because of the delay, none of the local councils have held the monthly full board meetings, which are crucial for the day-to-day administration of the municipalities and city councils, the officer said, adding that even the standard committee meetings that require councillors, like finance, planning and infrastructure were not being held.

According to a state government official, the delay in the appointment of the councillors is due to the difficulty in coming to a mutual agreement on the allocation of seats between the Pakatan Rakyat members namely PKR, DAP and PAS.

“The appointment for those from the NGO and professional groups is straight-forward but for those from the political parties, it is quite problematic as three parties are still haggling on the number of councillors posts” the official said.

Among those who would be appointed as councillors are lawyers, NGO leaders, doctors, academics, journalists and retired government officials.

The official said lawyer Derek Fernandez, Malaysians Against the Discrimination of the Disabled coordinator Anthony Thanasayan and Independent Living and Training Centre secretary Gurdip Kaur are among those tipped to be appointed as local councillors.

“We need a diverse group of professionals and experts to lend their expertise to serve a society which demands not only prompt service from the local governments but also transparency and accountability for the use of ratepayers’ money,” the official said.

The list would also include ex-policemen, former magistrates and retired Anti-Corruption Agency officers.

The ratio of women serving in the councils would also be higher to reflect the Pakatan Rakyat government’s commitment to ensure women have an adequate say at the grassroots level.

Though the final list for the 288 local councillors to serve the 12 local authorities in Selangor is ready, last-minute lobbying, especially from politicians, has forced Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim to delay the announcement.

More than 1,000 applications were received two months ago by the Selangor government to fill the posts.

SS2 Residents Association president Lim Theng Kau said the delay did not affect him but he was looking forward to the announcement.

Resident Jack Nadarajah said the new state government seemed to be taking a long time to announce the list of councillors.

“Though it is important to appoint the best, the state government should not delay naming the councillors as it may affect the overall running of the councils, “ said Nadarajah.

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