By Fathol Zaman Bukhari
When news of a new mayor taking over the hot seat made the rounds, the city was abuzz with rumours, some misplaced and some totally unwarranted. Ipohites were eager to know who would fill the void once Dato’ Harun Rawi bows out. My one good and reliable source was the many whatsapp chat groups I am affiliated to. The Ipoh City Watch group administered by Dr Richard Ng was most active, as some of the more vocal ones had posted photos and names of the likely candidates.
The one name that had been bandied about for a while was Dato’ Rahim Md Ariff, the former Ipoh City Council Secretary and, currently, the president of the Taiping Municipal Council.
Over time the name list stretched to two and finally three. The three were Rahim, Hj Mohamad Jamil, DO Kuala Kangsar and Zamri Man, president of the Manjung Municipal Council. Many had their bets on Rahim as he was the most senior of the trio and the one with sound knowledge of Ipoh having served Ipoh City Council for over two decades.
I did not participate in the animated discussion that followed purely for reasons of expedience. I knew had I been a party to the exchanges I would be cited as a source, being from the media. So I kept mum and read what others had in their minds. Some of the comments were interesting although a little far-fetched. Someone had his money on Mohamad Jamil. His reason was rather simple. Mohamad Jamil was nearest to the palace and being DO of Kuala Kangsar District he had the edge. I did not fall for this.
My arguments would have been at odds with the rest had I articulated them. Although nomination for the post of mayor of Ipoh comes from Putrajaya, the Menteri Besar has the final say. Someone who is in the good books of the MB would definitely stand a better chance of being appointed than an outsider.
There had, however, been instances when a ‘golden handshake’ determines the outcome. This was what happened when Dato’ Roshidi Hashim left in November 2013. It took a while for the new mayor to step in.
Dato’ Harun Rawi, the District Officer of Larut, Matang and Selama got the job on a silver platter, so to speak. Harun was past 58 years old. He had barely two years to perform a job that was beyond his call. I would not have bet on someone whose tenure in office is too short to be of use. Had I been in his shoes I would have done the same – don’t rock the boat, keep activities to the minimum and wherever possible try to defer things or postpone them until my replacement takes over.
The ninth mayor, with due respect, was a non-starter. Ipohites were left in a lurch wondering what had hit them. Was there a mayor or not? Harun would not even entertain interviews or meetings. He was so aloof that news soon filtered out that he was antisocial and anti-media. A meeting with news bureau chiefs was organised on January 29 and that set the record straight. Harun admitted that he preferred to remain in the rear leaving the job of engaging the people to his front-line staff. Having said his piece, Ipohites left him alone so did the media.
When Harun left on June 30, a new mayor was appointed the following day. Dato’ Zamri Man received his appointment letter from Dato’ Seri DiRaja Dr Zambry Abd Kadir on July 1 and on July 2, Zamri reported to work.
Zamri had made a name for himself as president of Manjung Municipal Council. He had the grounding in Manjung which is among the best-managed councils in the country. Someone with such credentials under his belt is expected to perform, no matter how. Thus, expectations among Ipohites are high.
However, before we get carried away by innuendoes, let us identify what is really required out of Ipoh’s tenth mayor. The list is simple. Most would agree that cleanliness, security and safety take precedence over others. A clean and safe Ipoh is what Ipohites pine for. Likewise, an efficient delivery system will engender affection for the Council. Ridding or simplifying the obnoxious visitors’ dress code should be Zamri’s priority. He could not have it any other way.