iSpeak: Councillor’s Rewarding Experience

By A. Jeyaraj

After reading a letter in the NST from a former councillor about his experience, I decided to talk to my former councillor Dato’ Daniel Tay who was councillor for Lim Garden, Merdeka Garden and Taman Idris, to get his views. He agreed with the contents of the letter. Daniel Tay was modest and often said that he was not a good councillor and did not attend meetings regularly. He was a councillor for more than 10 years and started as District Councillor in Manjung District. He distributed flyers to the residents to inform them that he is their councillor. All councillors should do this because they are appointed and not elected. Ratepayers do not know who their councillors are.

A number of councillors are saying that residents must contact them and it is not their responsibility to meet residents in their zones. Daniel disagreed and said that it is the responsibility of councillors to visit their zones and see the problems. Upon being appointed as councillor for my zone Daniel visited the problem areas with officers from MBI. During his time, each councillor was assigned two MBI staff to assist them, but this is not practised now. MBI should reinstate this system to enable councillors to carry out their duties. Councillors can visit their zones with them and fix problems easily since they have the right people with them. Councillors should be familiar with their zones.

There are also complaints from councillors that they have little or no say in MBI and cannot do much. Daniel disputed this and said councillors can meet the Mayor and Secretary whenever they like to address their problems. Councillors must deliver effectively. They ought to know what they must do and can do and what they can’t and must not. Councillors should champion local issues and implement them. Councillors are the eyes and ears of the community.

He lamented that nowadays some councillors do not act accordingly. There is much to be done as the tasks are many and varied. They must be competent to do their jobs and perform to expectations of ratepayers. He knows some councillors do not perform. They must get relevant skills to do their jobs.

Councillors must deliver; if you can’t, quit. They must be passionate about serving the people. Serve all Malaysians even those who do not support you.

Daniel Tay stressed that what needs to be done is to have a dedicated hotline in MBI whereby ratepayers can lodge complaints and get contact details of councillors. Details of complaints should be recorded.

His advice to political parties is they should appoint candidates who are willing to serve the people as councillors. Do not appoint councillors based on their position in the party. The performance of councillors reflects the image of the party and would influence how the public would vote. Now it is New Malaysia and much has changed since May 9 last year. Serving the people can be a rewarding experience.

(The letter of former municipal councillor Bulbir Singh “Serving as a councillor a rewarding experience” was published in NST, 21 March, 2019).

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