By A. Jeyaraj
After the massive flooding of several areas in Ipoh on May 12, I decided to write about the annual flood woes and wanted to get first-hand information from the flood victims. Since I myself am a flood victim, I wanted to share the experience. I have been receiving lots of complaints about the councillors. I thought contacting them for information on flooding would enable me to check out how accessible and knowledgeable they are about their zones. I got a copy of the Councillor’s List January 1, 2017 to December 31, 2018, from MBI and started calling councillors from the affected zones as well as adjacent zones. I contacted 15 out of 23 councillors.
It is not nice to name the councillors, but I am listing their zones. The zones are Tambun, Gugusan Manjoi, Buntong, Lim Garden, Tasek, Bercham, Kg. Simee, Pasir Pinji, Pasir Puteh, Sg. Rokam, Kuala Pari, Klebang, Chemor, Tanjung Rambutan, Taman Golf and Pengkalan.
I was able to contact a few of the councillors immediately. I had to make a few calls to contact some of them and was not able to contact a couple of them and sent SMS messages. Firstly, I must say that when I was able to talk to the councillors, all of them were courteous and cooperative and spoke English. I had no communication problems.
When I informed them that I was from Ipoh Echo and my intention for calling them, not all of them were able to provide details of flood victims. This depends on the interaction of the councillors with residents.
A few of the councillors provided me with details of the person I should contact for information. One councillor was instrumental in installing pumps in her zone.
One of the councillors was not aware of flooding in his area and I thought it might be a communication problem and asked one of my colleagues to call. After a number of attempts, she said she was not able to contact him.
The councillor for a zone that gets flooded frequently was not able to provide any details. He admitted there was flooding, but was not sure of the places. In fact a letter was published in NST concerning annual flooding woes in his zone.
Another councillor agreed there was flooding and informed that he always contacted MBI and JPS (Drainage and Irrigation Department) when there was flooding. He never informed what action was taken, but flooding still takes place. He never gave details of victims.
After seven attempts, I managed to contact a councillor whose zone is identified as kawasan banjir (flooding area). When asked about flood victims, he was only able to tell the name of the road that gets flooded.
On two occasions when I called a councillor, he was in hospital getting treatment and I did not want to disturb him. When contacted later he said that he was not aware of any flooding. When I gave him particulars of a flood victim, he messaged that he wanted to meet me. He was not able to do so due to his health condition.
The councillor for the area which was badly affected by flooding during 2012, said that even after flood mitigation works, the place gets flooded. He provided particulars of the person who could provide details.
One of the councillors who informed that there was flooding in his zone said he would send particulars of the person to contact and requested me to send a WhatsApp message. I did and sent a reminder as well, but no response from him.
When I failed to contact one councillor after eight attempts, I sent an SMS message to him as well as five others. He replied a couple of days later, saying that I should go to MBI for information. A number of housing estates in his zone were flooded. Probably he is not staying in his zone and is not aware of what is going on. If residents must go to MBI to get information, why did he agree to become a councillor?
Of the other five councillors only two replied. Three did not. If councillors do not respond to queries, how can the residents get their problems solved? These are the ugly ones. I suppose they are there to earn a living.
Many residents including myself do not know who our councillor is. My housing estate is not mentioned in the Councillors List and no one has turned up introducing himself as the councillor. The State Assemblyman and Member of Parliament are elected by the people and we know them. I know my Assemblyman and MP personally and they know me. On the other hand councillors are appointed and it is up to them to go to their zones and introduce themselves. One good example is Clr Liew Kar Tuan who sent flyers to residents in his zone informing them that he has been appointed as a councillor for 2017/2018 and they can contact him if they have problems. Only problem is, the flyer has no contact number.
Some years ago a group of civil societies conducted a survey on councillors and the first two questions were: Do you know your councillor? Have you seen your councillor in your area within the past 12 months? More than 90 per cent of respondents replied; No. The situation is still the same. The findings were published in some newspapers.
Councillors are not doing their job for free. They are paid, enjoy perks and privileges and go on all paid vacation at the expense of the ratepayers. Shouldn’t they be doing more for these perks?
In one of the companies I used to work, on pay day the Manager goes round asking the staff to think whether they deserved their pay!