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16 June 2009

One in five Selangor councillors likely to be replaced

AN average of five changes are expected to be made in each of the 10 municipal and two city councils in Selangor when the names of the new local councillors are announced.

The list, which will see about 20% of the 288 councillors changed, is expected to be announced by the end of the month.

All set: The MPK building in Klang will see some new faces soon.

However, state local government committee chairman Ronnie Liu was not willing to disclose the actual number of new councillors to be appointed, adding that the names had not been confirmed yet.

He said they would only be confirmed before the appointment letters were sent out.

When asked if there would be massive changes, Liu said changes were imminent but the scale had not been decided yet.

“There will be changes in all the councils but I cannot tell how many in each of the councils,” he said.

Responding to a general notion that the councillors should be given more time to prove themselves, except those who are not performing, Liu said the changes would not be made for the sake of change.

He said all the good councillors would be retained and the outgoing ones would be replaced by those who were more capable.

In action: A file picture of the councillors at work during a meeting in the MPK.

“There are some who have had various problems during their tenures and we have found they are not suited for the tasks. However, there have also been some exceptional councillors.

“For most of them, this past year has been a learning process and they have shown improvement so it is only fair that we give them another year to prove themselves,” Liu said.

The terms for all the councillors are ending at the end of this month.

Shah Alam MP Khalid Abdul Samad was one of those who felt that the councillors needed more time to show their true potential and prove themselves.

He said during the initial months, some had not seemed to be doing any work, but this was because they were new to the job. He added that, since then, these councillors had shown marked improvements.

“In Shah Alam, we are quite happy with most of the councillors.” he said.

As an MP, Khalid admitted that he had contributed in the assessment process for the new line-up.

“I don’t know about the other areas, but for Shah Alam PAS, we have asked the branches to contribute in the assessment process.

“They have given their feedback and opinions whether the councillors in their areas had done their jobs accordingly,” he said.

Liu also said that two criteria for the new councillors would be time and financial independence.

“They have to have the time to serve the people and, at the same time, must be financially independent,” he said.

He added that the councillors had to make themselves accessible to the people and they had to spend a lot of time helping out. He said this was one of the main problems that some of the councillors had faced and had led them to resign.

At the same time, Liu said that being financially stable would help them conduct their tasks of serving the people more efficiently. He also said the results from the councillors’ report cards, the system which allowed the local government officials to asses the councillors performance during their tenures, would also be included in the final assessment.

The report card requires each councillors to carry out self-assessments and list out what they had done since taking office, including the courses attended and accolades earned.

The councillors would also be judged on their abilities, creativity, relationship with the people and command of the language.

The report card was later submitted to the mayors, council presidents and state assemblymen for comment.

Liu promised that those who were not performing and had a tarnished image would have to go.

Liu admitted that there were some differences in opinion between the councillors and the officials from the local councils at the initial stages of their appointments last year.

“Most of the councillors were not clear about their roles and responsibilities in the initial stages, which led to some minor conflicts.

“But, now after a year, they have understood and learnt to respect each other,” he said, adding that most of the problems had been ironed out without the need for the state government’s involvement.

Liu also said the number of representatives from non-governmental organisations in the line-up would be about the same as before and Khalid also believed the number to be adequate.

Subang Jaya assemblyman Hannah Yeoh added that the most important qualities that a councillor should have are accessibility and effectiveness.

“The state government has recently asked all the assemblymen and MPs to give their feedback on the present lineup of councillors.

“We want to ensure that those who have not been performing are not reappointed, so the people will get the councillors who will serve them,” she said.

“I have received feedback that one or two MPSJ councillors cannot be contacted by the people and I hope this will not be repeated,” she said.

Yeoh also supported having NGO representatives being appointed as councillors, to serve as a check and balance.

“I have also conveyed my preference for councillors to serve as advisors, and not chairmen, of their respective Residents Committees,” she said.

“As the JKP chairmen, the councillors have to chair and help organise residents activities, which takes up a lot of their time. As advisors, they can focus on their work in the MPSJ,” she said.

However, MBPJ councillor Anthony Thanasayan, who represents the disabled community, feels that there is not enough NGO representation at the councils,

He believed that about half of the line-up should be represented by the NGOs as they could represent the residents without being partisan.

“We will be able to see things from a neutral perspective and we are not biased.

“Most politicians will have their own agenda, regardless of their party.

“However, these NGO representatives must be carefully selected from people-oriented NGOs that had a track record for representing the people,” Thanasayan said.

He added that there should be more representation for the environment, children and the disabled at the local community level.


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