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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Forcing Accountability

The reoccurrence of landslides in Ulu Klang, Ampang, capped by the tragedy of Bukit Antarabangsa, is a compelling reason for the reintroduction of local government elections.

Amidst all the finger-pointing, justifying and spin-doctoring, one thing remains clear: that something is very wrong with the way the overseeing of hillside developments in that area, perhaps even other areas, is being managed. If it were otherwise, we would have not been seeing the scenarios we have since 1993 when Block 1, Highland Towers toppled.

Let me expand on why I have assigned blame in the way I have. Let us assume for a moment that the landslides are exclusively caused by soil-conditions, as some might have us believe. If that is the case then one must assume that the area is unsafe for occupation. That begs the question of why is it that housing estates were permitted to be developed in the area and people allowed to take up occupation there.

If, on the other hand, it is not just about soil-conditions but about the way in which housing estates are to be developed, then that points to a human factor and raises the question in turn of what is it that was done wrongly. Was it the case that policies were inadequate to address the situation or that translation of those policies into action was lacking? Or was it that poor judgment calls were made or even insufficient consideration given to compelling factors?

One would have thought that the enquiry conducted after the Highland Towers incident would have shed sufficient light on the matter to put things into focus and the numerous landslides since help keep them in focus. Apparently not, judging by claims of some residents of Bukit Antarabangsa that their complaints had gone unheeded, echoing assertions made by those who had suffered before.

The situation is made more complex by ambiguity. It cannot be said that all that needs to be know is known, except perhaps by a small group of persons who may not feel the need to make the full and frank disclosure required for a firmer understanding of what happened and what needs to be done. This is not surprising as it mirrors the way in which much of the public system is administered.

Put another way, there is shocking lack of transparency and accountability in the public system. a state of affairs possibly encouraged by recent short-sighted decisions of the Federal Court virtually immunizing governments and local councils from liability. This opaqueness not only keeps us blind to what needs to be seen, perhaps those who chose to live in Bukit Antarabangsa would not have done so if they had been adequately warned of the risks, but also what we need to do.

Which takes me to my point. Accountability and transparency needs to be forced on the system and a surefire method of doing this is by making administrators accountable through elections.
If the Pakatan Rakyat needs a reason to crank up its efforts to deliver on the election promise it made to reintroduce local council elections, here it is.



Anonymous said...

I totally agree that we should have local government elections but what exactly needs to happen? I think many Malaysia are confused about how the government works, evidenced by MP's being 'asked' to solve problems that should be handled by the local city councils.

Can any of the PR states push forward for local elections or will the federal government stop them from doing so? From what I can see although we have PR states, the day to day operations of these states still seem to be firmly under previous party making the state government fairly toothless.

People want changes in their regular lives and with the PR seeming in ability to push tough changes through, they will falter considering one party the same as the other.

ChengHo said...

The house owners is a mixed community , the authority is a malay organisation and the developer is a malaysian chinese controlled company
Do i sound racist?

Anonymous said...

The accountability that MIS promotes should be extended to the individuals working with the state governments, city councils, developer and other relevant parties. It is the want to carry out your job well which will drive individuals to ensure all the details of the job are in tact. Very little can be done by training (which normally wastes millions of RMs) to encourage this, in the end of the day, its the integrity within the individuals which could improve things. And integrity is not well promoted in this country.