October 25th, 2012 by Teresa Kok's Office
The Malaysian Insider
By Amin Iskandar
KUALA LUMPUR | Oct 25, 2012
Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim vows to reform local councils and make it Selangor government’s topmost priority if he is re-elected to lead the state.
“I want to reform the local councils, but I am pressed for time.”
“Local councils should be the state government’s operator in managing cities, and should have the ability to create an environment where citizens can feel that they own the city,” Abdul Khalid told The Malaysian Insider in a recent interview.
According to Abdul Khalid, he wants Selangor citizens to be proud of their cities, much like Londoners.
“To have a great city, we need a great mayor, just like how Londoners are proud of their mayor, the one with the uncombed hair,” he said.
London Mayor Boris Johnson is well-known for his unruly hair, and has become the pride of Londoners after the city successfully organised the 2012 Olympic Games.
According to Abdul Khalid, the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) is among the best local councils in Selangor, in addition to having the highest revenue.
“I recently launched a report about MBPJ which collects revenue of nearly RM300 million. The majority of residents in MBPJ are also graduates, with reasonable income.
“The problem, however, is that currently Petaling Jaya residents do not feel that the city is theirs, they see Kuala Lumpur as theirs instead, and Petaling Jaya is only a place where they go home for the night.
“This is what I want to change, so Petaling Jaya residents can feel that Petaling Jaya is theirs,” he explained.
Abdul Khalid believes that in order to reform local councils, there was a need to change the public’s mindset over their role.
“When we involve the public in the discussions to develop a city, they will feel a sense of ownership and will not hesitate to pay any fees or taxes needed for the good of the council.
“They will feel proud if their city is clean and safe, proud of its cultural performances and sports teams, football teams, for example,” he added.
Abdul Khalid is Selangor’s first mentri besar who is not from Umno since the first post-independence general election was held in 1959.
For the first time in history, Selangor, the wealthiest state in Malaysia, fell into the hands of the opposition — PKR, the DAP and PAS — in 2008.
The opposition also formed Pakatan Rakyat (PR) afterwards, which denied the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) its traditional two-thirds majority in Parliament.
Selangor will continue to be the centre of attention in the next general election, which is predicted to be the fiercest ever.
The issue of water has been a major one leading to the general election, with finger-pointing between PR and BN over control of the water resource of the wealthiest state. It has opened the public’s eyes on the amount of money that will be at stake.
This crisis also has the potential to determine votes in the upcoming general election for Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, with results hanging on which side gets to be blamed if water supply gets disrupted.
Besides governing Selangor, PR also won 10 out of 11 seats in the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur in 2008.