Residents of a housing estate wanted to see their MP about the stray dogs problem in their area. I told them this is a problem for the local council to solve and the MP has nothing to do with it. Now people are very enthusiastic and want to take every issue, small or big, serious or not to their MP or assembly person.
Some time back, the management of the bus company in Medan Kidd Bus Station closed the side gate along Jalan Panglima Bukit Gantang Wahab. This caused inconvenience to the passengers who had to walk a longer distance to go to the bus terminus. The people approached their MP who met with the management, but the management refused to open the gate. Later, MBI councillor met the management and the gate was opened. This does not mean that the councillor has more power; it depends on their jurisdiction.
Our country has three tiers of government – federal, state and local, each with very separate areas of responsibility. I am summarising their functions so that the public would know whom to approach to solve their problems.
City Councillor or Ahli Majlis is the link between ratepayers and MBI.
Understanding the role and responsibility of a councillor is necessary and important for one to get the best value for the rates we pay to MBI. Clean drains, regular rubbish collection, grass cutting, functioning lamp posts and traffic lights, clean, safe and a peaceful environment, are our basic requirements and these are the responsibility of MBI. Most of our daily requirements are handled by MBI.
When the new councillors are appointed, you must know the councillor for your zone and regularly engage with him/her. Your engagement with your Councillor effectively ensures a win-win situation for both of you.
State Assembly Member (ADUN)
It is the responsibility of the ADUN to monitor issues like land use, that is, land allocated for specific uses such as police and fire station, community halls, parks and green open spaces. ADUNs should also look into land titles and the state’s town planning. Abandoned projects would be another area for ADUNs to look at, turning these abandoned land into good use.
It is also the duty of the ADUN to protect the interest of the residents in his constituency in relation to state administrative functions. He should look into improving the standard of living for constituents by generating economic growth.
Having understood a little bit more of the duties of an ADUN, one can appreciate why the ADUN is not often seen. Unless a person is involved in associations, NGOs or other lobbying groups there would be little interaction with the ADUN. As responsible citizens we must make use of the services of our ADUN and let him/her know what we want.
Member of Parliament (MP)
One important duty of an MP is to be the voters’ eyes and ears in Parliament to ensure their rights are protected. New laws or amendments to existing laws should be in the best interest of the nation instead of for the interests of individuals or specific groups of people.
An MP has to raise questions and concerns of his constituents and in some instances even to propose amendments or laws for that objective. One example would be if residents know of the opening of a highly toxic industry in their area, they will have to lobby their MP to stop that industry in their neighbourhood.
An MP should also remain in close contact with his constituents to be able to know and understand their concerns and aspirations.
Most of us have voted for the party instead of the candidate. We know little of what our elected representative stands for on important issues such as taxation, education, environment to name a few. Therefore an important duty of an MP is to be able to share his stand on important issues with his constituents through his published manifesto so that his voters can understand and continue to support him.
Similarly, it is the duty of the MP to submit on behalf of his constituents to the relevant ministries for infrastructure projects required in the constituency. These projects include roads, bridges, telecommunication infrastructures, public transport systems which can improve the quality of life for the constituents.
The responsibilities of Councillors, Assemblyperson and MP are different. People with problems must approach the right person to help them. Most of the problems of ratepayers are with the local councils whose policies have direct impact on them.
Now the public should know whom to approach when they have a specific problem.
By A. Jeyaraj