iSpeak: Perak Government Should Use Ipoh Echo, The Voice of Community

By A. Jeyaraj

The illegal clearing of Kledang Hill has opened a Pandora’s Box and the public have come up with a number of conspiracy theories since the MB has not given any sensible explanation and up till the writing of this piece, the culprits have not been caught. If I write down the various theories, I would be in trouble. Why is it so difficult to catch the people for a crime done in broad daylight?

I have been reading Straits Times and now NST from the time I can remember. There is hardly any news about Ipoh or Perak and even if there is something, it would probably be negative. There were only three news items of the Kledang Hill clearing; the first one saying it is illegal, second about the report made to MACC and finally the site visit by NGOs and media.

My suggestion is the State Government should take two pages of advertisement in Ipoh Echo monthly and publish what is happening in Ipoh and the state. The government must be proactive. The paper is read by the who’s who in Ipoh and it would reach the right target group. By publishing its functions and forthcoming events, the State Government can be assured that their message reaches the right audience. The public can also provide feedback and make suggestions and request information through the paper. Even housewives are talking about the next prime minister. People are using their newfound freedom wisely.

Ipoh Echo can be used as a platform between the public and the government. The state government publishes a monthly magazine, but I wonder who reads it. Echo has about 100,000 print readers and about one million online hits. It is ‘The Voice of the Community’.

Things have changed after GE14; now people know they have the power to change the government. People are using their freedom of expression to question the government and keen to know what is going on. The public does not want to see the new government making the same mistakes as the previous government.

I get calls from people asking what is MB Inc and two-dollar companies. People are not stupid. They know that the MB runs the state. Is he also in business? It is the responsibility of the MB to explain to the people his role in MB Inc. which can be done through Ipoh Echo.

I received a WhatsApp message about a contract being given to a contractor, Bujang Selanggara, for maintenance of roads in Perak valued at more than RM1 billion. Looking at the state of the roads here, I wonder where that money is going.

The Finance Minister has said that the previous government gave contracts without going through the proper procedure of open-tender system. If the PH government is doing the same thing, why did we change the government? If this is true, the MB should enlighten the public about this in Ipoh Echo and give particulars of the company and why it was chosen.

I used to work for Brunei Shell and involved in contracting. Contractors had to get registered with Shell to bid for contracts. Staff from technical, financial and administration departments visit the contractors’ office to check on their facilities. The contractors had to provide their profile, details of their key personnel, their expertise and the jobs they have done. In our contracts, we even had a clause saying the company must have access to their accounts.

MBI should also take up two pages in Ipoh Echo monthly to publicise their activities. The committee meetings of the department heads and councillors on future projects are held behind closed doors under secrecy. The ratepayers, whose money is being used, have the right to know what’s going on behind closed doors if there is nothing to hide.

Public opinion is that most members of the committee are incompetent for the job and their discussions are shallow and members are ignorant of the subject being discussed. They do not want to expose their weakness. MBI should give particulars of the contractors who are given contracts and value of the contract. This can be done through Ipoh Echo.

The public also feels that there is a decline in the services of MBI under the PH government especially in the collection of garbage which is the main concern of all residents. Residents’ complaints are not addressed in spite of reminders.

Residents do not know who their councillors are. I get calls that the councillors do not answer their calls. During the AGM of Lim Garden Residents Association, V. Palani, representative of Buntong assemblyman said that the councillors are busy and are doing a good job. But how are we to know what they are doing if we never see them or get a hold of them on the phone?  Again my suggestion to MBI is to use Ipoh Echo as their tagline states “The Voice of the Community” then the councillors can publish their activities. They should be given the opportunity to air their achievements. Councillors are the link between MBI and the ratepayers and are paid for their job.

Malaysia is a signatory of Local Agenda 21 (LA21) which states that the public should be involved in decision making from bottom up. The MBI website says they practise LA21; I suppose it is in theory and not practice.

Tun M emphases that his is a people’s’ government. If this is true, then the state government and MBI should get the public involved in their activities through Ipoh Echo, the community paper.

Readers can do me a favour by placing this article on the desks of MB and the Mayor for their action and feedback.

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