MPPJ Billboards scandal - balls are in the courts of Khir Toyo and Ong Ka Ting, the former to suspend the MPPJ Councillors and officers while the latter to ensure Municipal good governance making public all relevant minutes as required under Local Government Act
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): With the expose of the Petaling Jaya Municipal Council (MPPJ) advertising billboard scandal by “Citizen Nades” in yesterday’s The Sun, and the silence and failure of the MPPJ president Datuk Abdul Karim Munisar in the past 24 hours to rebut the expose, the balls are now in the courts of the Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr. Mohamed Khir Toyo and the Local Government and Housing Minister, Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting to restore public confidence in Municipal good governance.
Last Friday, Khir Toyo had ordered an investigation into allegations that MPPJ billboard licence applicants are required to make contributions of at least RM10,000 for each billboard to the MPPJ Sports Club, promising to take action if there were irregularities, declaring “I will not tolerate any nonsense” in his pledge to protect the interest of the public.
The next day, the MPPJ president strongly denied allegations that the MPPJ issuance of advertising licences was based on contributions to its sports and culture club, which was debunked by Citizen Nades yesterday, who produced documentary proof to substantiate his allegation that former MPPJ president Datuk Emran Kadir had at a meeting between MPPJ and outdoor advertising companies on February 4 announced the handing over of MPPJ outdoor billboards to the sports club.
The MPPJ silence can only mean that it could not challenge the veracity of Citizen Nades’ documents.
In the circumstances, Khir Tojo, in keeping with his promise “not tolerate any nonsense” should suspend the MPPJ president, the 24 MPPJ councilors and the officials involved, and to bring in a completely new team for the “house-cleaning” of the MPPJ – or Khir Tojo himself should step down as Selangor Mentri Besar.
Ka Ting, as the Minister for Local Government, should play his part to ensure Municipal good governance by ensuring that the MPPJ and all local governments comply with both the spirit and letter of the Local Government Act 1976 on accountability, transparency and good governance, in particular in giving public access to all minutes of proceedings of the MPPJ relating to the billboards scandal.
Section 27 of the Local Government Act, which requires local governments to give public access to these minutes have been observed more in the breach in the past three decades. This section reads:
(1) Every local authority shall cause to be duly made from time to time
minutes of all proceedings of the local authority and of every Committee
appointed by it, including the names of the Councillors present, and the
names of all Councillors voting on any question for the decision of which a
division is called.
Is Abdul Karim able to immediately make public all the minutes of the MPPJ and those of all other committees which have relevance to the MPPJ billboards scandal?
Many local governments have developed the unhealthy, undemocratic and unlawful practice to unreasonably deny public access to council meetings and their minutes, which is not only against the Local Government Act but all principles of accountability, transparency and good governance – which must now be put to a total stop by Ka Ting as Local Government Minister following the MPPJ billboards scandal.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman