The Ipoh City Councillors And The Citizens Of Ipoh.

BYLINE: An old Ipoh Resident

On July 6, Perak Academy organised a “Town Hall” meeting between the residents of Ipoh and the City Councillors. Not only was it an opportunity for the councillors to get to know the problems of residents first hand and face to face, but it also gave the residents a new perspective and better understanding of the inner mechanisms of running the city of Ipoh.

About 50 Ipohites attended and they were almost unanimously not satisfied with the present state of the city of Ipoh.

They also had the opportunity to understand the problems faced by the City Councillors in their attempt to improve the city back to the “Good old days” where Ipoh, under the exemplary leadership of the two Senivasagam brothers, was well known as the cleanest city in the country.

Today the city has grown and so have expectations.

Before we delve into these issues, we must put forth something that had been vexing Ipoh residents for some time. We are paying the highest rates in the country.

As the meeting progressed it became clear that there were a “thousand problems and issues” which could not be covered in a session or two, over a cup of “teh tarik”.

Secondly, it became evident as the meeting progressed, that there was a lack of coordination and linkage between the citizens and the councillors. Communication was poor.

It was a systemic problem. Therefore, forgive me for my 2 cents worth, as I address the systemic fractures and suggest an overhaul of the whole system.

1) Communication

2) Ownership of problems and solutions.

Communication: this is vital. The Ipoh public need to know who, as in which councillor, is in charge or responsible for any particular section of the city. The meeting informed the participants that the city was divided into Zones with each Councillor designated to a zone. And very few residents knew which councillor was responsible for their zone.

For this I would like to suggest that a signboard be placed at the centre of each zone or at approach main roads to the Zone, with the following information:

  1. a) the zone in question within the map of Ipoh, and highlighting of the zone in question with a prominent colour on the map.
  2. b) the name and photo of the councillor in charge of the zone
  3. c) contact number, postal address and handphone contact.

I support the privacy of councillors, but to be readily accessible to the public, an official handphone number can be provided rather than the personal number. This allows for instant complaints. Ideally these complaints by residents should be short and to the point and accompanied by photos when possible.

3) All complaints must be

  1. a) acknowledged within one week
  2. b) plan of action in response to the complainant ASAP within a month
  3. c) if the residents do not receive a response within the allotted time, which is one week for acknowledgement & one month for plan of action including time needed for task completion, then the complainant can write in to the press, such as Ipoh Echo, giving a chronological report of the complaint and the delayed response.

It will be noted that some work may either take time and some are out of the jurisdiction of the Council. Nonetheless, in these cases, councillors must inform the complainant on the status within a week, instead of leaving them hanging for weeks on end.

All these may appear to be a lot of work, but that’s what they are there for: work. And they have secretarial staff.

4) as in all things, with good performance comes praise. Thus we would like to identify hard working councillors every year and again through the press such as Ipoh Echo, honour them at an annual “meet the councillors “ session, with a certificate of excellent performance. And perhaps a small plaque.

This little tweaking of the SOP hopefully may improve performance and make “IPOH GREAT AGAIN”.

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