PETALING JAYA,Feb 2: After a social advancement think tank suggested that Kuala Lumpur needs to be run by its own elected officials, local council experts have come forward to reveal that the city has not been managed well under the federal territories ministry.
The local government experts welcomed the call made by Research for Social Advancement (Refsa) which also said the ministry’s role has been in urgent need of review since its disastrous urban planning outcomes under the watch of former minister Tengku Adnan Mansor.
Refsa adviser Wan Hamidi Hamid said the ministry was not directly accountable for the welfare of Kuala Lumpur, whose dwellers should have the right to choose the government that serves them.
Commenting on the suggestion, former deputy housing minister Raja Kamarul Bahrin said electing officials was the only way to ensure that the capital city’s future would not fall into a state of “urban decay”.
“Superficially and physically, Kuala Lumpur seems like an advanced city, but administratively it is not well run, and its potential is under-realised.
“Unless changes are made, the city will slide into decay, and the damage will be irreversible,” he told FMT.
Citing a Bersih 2.0 report on local elections that debunked the myth that non-Malays will monopolise councils if local government elections are held, Raja Kamarul said there should be no more excuse to postpone local elections.
“Such an election will force accountability and minimise political deadwood.
“Local governments must be elected by the people. Political appointees will only serve a political agenda and not the wellbeing of the people,” he said.
He said there were too many political appointments wasting resources while contributing little to the benefits of the people of Kuala Lumpur.
Political appointments should be kept purely ceremonial with professionals being allowed to run the city,” he said.
Asked why certain stakeholders opposed local elections, he said “people in Kuala Lumpur are very capable of making good decisions to elect the city’s own government. They can choose wisely, which is why the government is afraid of local elections.”
Meanwhile, lawyer Derek Fernandez explained that power politics and patronage were the reason why there was no political will to push for a local government election.
Previously during Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) tenure, Fernandez had called the federal territories ministry redundant and an inefficient use of taxpayers’ funds as it overlapped the local authorities’ roles and functions.
“From a good governance and public administration perspective, there is no need for an FT ministry,” he said, adding that the respective governance structures can operate independently.