Setting the tone with Selangorku | Selangor Times
Sunday
20·08·2017
Issue 118

 

Selangor
Setting the tone with Selangorku
Writer: Tricia Yeoh
Published: Fri, 30 Sep 2011

Selangor was one of the first governments in Malaysia to have officially celebrated Malaysia Day on Sept 16 in 2009, which was followed thereafter by the federal government in 2010 when it was declared a public holiday.

This year, Selangor launched its version of an agenda in conjunction with Malaysia Day, called “Selangorku”, or “My Selangor”. The project took about a year to complete, having been initiated when I was then Research Officer at the Selangor Menteri Besar’s office. Although I have since moved on, it was indeed a gratifying moment knowing the agenda has finally

been launched. The original objective of having an agenda was to set a direction for the Selangor state. After having been in the state government for more than two years (at the time the project was conceived in 2010), it was timely for Selangor to go through an evaluation process of its numerous policy reform measures, activities and programmes according to each portfolio and sector.

This was conducted via a series of town hall meetings held in each of the 12 local and municipal councils across the state, inviting stakeholders from a range of professions in public, private, and non-governmental sectors to provide their perspectives and recommendations of what ought to be done in Selangor.

The sessions were conducted in mini-group roundtable discussions, facilitated by moderators. The topics centred upon governance (transparency and accountability), social issues (among them youth, crime and women’s issues), and infra- structure/public services (local council basic services such as roads, lights, drains and so on).

Apart from going to the ground, the Selangor team met with specific groups to obtain their views on the direction of the state based on the government’s achievements or failures, as well as to share their opinions generally. These groups included institutes of higher learning, investors, the services and manufacturing sector, non-governmental organisations, and selected academicians.

Finally, the team held one-on-one personal interviews with each of the exco members to ask what they felt were their most prominent policies and programmes that ought to be highlighted.

 

These were collated, taking into consideration the contents of other Selangor-related documents such as the Halatuju Selangor document, various Selangor budgets, speeches, individual gazetted local council plans, the State Structural Plan, as well as some national documents that would invariably affect

Selangor itself like the 10th Malaysia Plan. Of course, the public is often not overly concerned about

the details that go into any sort of policy document, hence some key points have been focused upon within brochures. These include the Selangor government’s commitment to holding local elections, the first of which is planned to be held in the Petaling Jaya City Council in 2012 as a pilot project.

As civil society has long lobbied for the return of local council elections, this move would perhaps sit favourably among urban dwellers. According to the Selangorku document, local governments must be fully responsible to the people, and it is the rakyat who “should have the right to elect new leadership.” Democracy truly has to begin at the local level, and electing the best councillors who will care for neighbourhoods and residential areas is the best way to demonstrate this.

The second priority area is for the state government to develop affordable housing for families with low household income (be- tween RM2,500 and RM5,000) – again something a responsible state should take up. As inflation rises, many are finding it increasingly difficult to be new house buyers and owners.

Third, the Selangorku document looks at facilitating collaboration with residents and the private sector to finance private security, with a pilot project hopefully within Subang Jaya. Although crime is one of the National Key Result Areas (NKRA) at the federal government level, it makes more sense for a more decentralised process of administering security to take place.

State and local governments, for example, have greater access and frequent interaction with resident associations. Both governments have, however, relied on higher numbers of Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras to help monitor crime.

Fourth is an interesting proposal, where although the federal government and its National Minimum Wage Council have agreed upon a minimum wage, it has not yet been implemented. The Pakatan Rakyat, which has a policy on minimum wage, has taken a stand through the Selangor government to implement a minimum wage of RM1,500 for all state subsidiaries effective Jan 1, 2012.

If successfully carried out, other Pakatan states ought to emulate this step for the sake of consistency.

Finally, the agenda outlines infrastructure as another key area, to ensure good maintenance of roads, drains, and bridges that are under local council supervision. Ultimately, the basic service delivery of local councils is what will matter most to the everyday citizen.

It seems a positive step for the state government to have emerged with its own policy agenda, setting the direction it is currently in and seeking to work towards. One problem the state has faced, however, is a consistent criticism of the lack of public- ity and communication of its numerous work efforts. And indeed, there have been a whole lot of initiatives undertaken, but with minimal awareness among those living in Selangor. Unfortunately, output does not seem to have matched the amount of input invested into these numerous programmes.

The launch of the Selangorku agenda has been one such way of tackling this problem of undercommunicated policies. It is hoped that the existing team within the government (at all levels, including the exco offices and other state assemblypersons) will be able to widely publicise this important document that, as I understand it, will set the tone for the upcoming elections. This is done through examples of what the state government has already done, and through what it is currently executing and will execute in the future.

With a roadmap in hand, the state can push forward confidently with a bold agenda – which, of course, must be equally matched with actual and smooth execution, the final and most crucial determinant of public opinion.

 

 Selangor Times

 

 

Also by Tricia Yeoh:

Towards a New Malaysia

THE term “think tank” may evoke images of stuffy bespectacled researchers sitting behind desks towering with stacks of paper.

The Personal and The Professional

YET another Malaysian incident has made it into international news. 

The PAS conundrum – or is it really?

At a recent policy dinner at St. Mike’s, a cozy Ipoh restaurant, I spoke of civil society, reform issues and my experience of having worked at the Pakatan Rakyat-led Selangor government. The discussion eventually centred on one subject alone, that being the ‘PAS conundrum’ (titled by me); conundrum being defined as a confusing and difficult problem or question. 

‘Tis the season to be rallying

THE past weekend has been a busy one indeed. Not only was the city’s annual arts festival, Urbanscapes, taking place, but this time Sigur Ros, the atmospheric Icelandic band graced the occasion and performed right in the heart of Petaling Jaya. 

Can overseas Malaysians contribute?

At the Singapore FreedomFilmFest 2012 where the three documentaries were screened (including The Rights of The Dead, on the late Teoh Beng Hock’s story), a sizeable number of Malaysians interspersed the audience. Roughly making up 20% of the crowd size, the question-and-answer session following the screening reminded me of the aspirations Malaysians living overseas continue to have about their country, back home. 

Models for state and city

As part of the Penang launch of my book, "States of Reform", as well as the FreedomFilmFest screenings of my documentary, "The Rights of the Dead" in the same state, I spent several days in Penang recently (a sister state of Selangor, in the sense that both are governed by the Pakatan Rakyat coalition as a result of the March 2008 elections). 

Lessons from Selangor show way forward

It was an entertaining thought that my friend, Keith Leong, would have spent long hours in the very English Cambridge University writing his MPhil thesis on the Selangor experience under Pakatan Rakyat. 

Dark look at the country’s financial situation

In the lead up to the 13th General Election, economic issues will inevitably be hotly debated by all sides of the political divide. It is within this context that a book of great relevance to Malaysian readers and voters has been recently published. 

Walking the narrow path

I had the privilege of speaking to a group of young interns under the Otak-Otak Internship Programme this week.

Decentralisation the way forward?

At the launch of my book, “States of  Reform: Governing Selangor and Penang” last Saturday, three esteemed panelists, YB Liew Chin Tong (member of Parliament, Bukit Bendera), YB Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad (state assemblypersom, Seri Setia) and Dr Ooi Kee Beng (Deputy Director, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore) took on the increasingly popular, but also controversial, subject of decentralisation of government in Malaysia.

Wading through the so-called ‘water crisis’

Election fever is in the air, and the games have begun. Last month, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak stated that Selangor was heading towards a water crisis, after the state government blocked the building of the Langat 2 water treatment plant.

That Religious Issue: Faith, Space and Justice

Every now and then arises a hot potato issue that few are inclined to comment upon, namely that of religious sensitivities. This week former Selangor state executive councillor and head of new NGO JATI, Hasan Ali, revealed a video of purported proselytisation of Muslims by a group of Christians.

Four years of PR in Selangor

What the Debate says about the Chinese

The much hyped-up debate between Lim Guan Eng and Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek last weekend took place with as much drama as there was in the days leading up to it.

Politics vs Policy: How do people really vote?

Malaysian lessons from Bolivia

At the Centre for Independent Journalism’s Human Rights in Outer Space series of events last week, I was asked to speak on a panel analysing the Our Brand is Crisis documentary and draw comparisons between issues arising within it and the Malaysian context.

Sewerage privatisation once again?

Cyberspace was on fire last week after the Auditor-General’s 2010 annual report revealed a host of financial irregularities perpetrated by several government agencies and government-linked companies.

Of schooling and the Budget

In my conversation with Malaysian parents, the topic almost always steers back to the issue of the country’s education system. They are most often in a dilemma about which schools they should place their children in, and which system to opt for.

Assimilation versus integration

Last weekend, I was invited to speak at a forum organised by the Ministry of Youth and Sports and Institute of Strategic and International Studies (Isis).

Water deal makes Malaysians RM6.5b poorer

A new chapter has unfolded in the long-drawn-out Selangor water saga recently. Acqua SPV, a Special-Purpose Vehicle set up under the gederal government body PAAB (Pengurusan Aset Air Berhad), has announced plans to acquire 100% of Selangor water bonds. The total outstanding bonds come up to RM6.5 billion.

Let’s start talking to one another as a nation

It seems to be a worldwide phenomenon that people are driven by insecurity and fear, especially of what they do not understand or know.

The dead have rights, too

Malaysia is in desperate need of a reliable and trustworthy institute to conduct autopsies, especially in relation to deaths in custody. Last week, the body of customs officer Ahmad Sarbani was found on the grounds of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Federal Territory office.

 

 

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