Tag Archives: Ipoh Mayor Roshidi

City Hall Dreams

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Letter

 

The Mayor of Ipoh City Hall must have the right facts before blaming and insulting residents for the filthy state of this city because there is evidence that these problems are due to neglect by City Hall.

During the past decade, residents have brought to the attention of City Hall the same problems they encounter daily. But for unknown reasons City Hall failed to upgrade the inefficient and inadequate essential services and allowed the state of the city to deteriorate. The easiest way out is to blame the residents and make broken promises of a cleaner city.

Recently, the Mayor mischievously stated he was unable to clean the city because residents could not be disciplined and refrained from throwing rubbish indiscriminately.

One of the important duties of the Mayor is the maintenance of cleanliness. He is held responsible and accountable if he fails to perform this task with commitment. All problems pertaining to cleanliness must be solved and not swept under the carpet. Is it so difficult to find  solutions to these problems? If he had investigated and analysed the thousands of reports lodged, the results would indicate most of these problems are created by his own staff, particularly the “illegal dumps”. This is to remind the Mayor of the assurance made on September 2012 of a cleaner Ipoh by the end of this year. After 13 months and a new management programme implemented, this assurance is another failure and as usual it is the fault of the residents. To cover up this failure and distract the attention of the residents, there are now plans to transform Ipoh into a sustainable and dynamic city by 2020, another mission impossible.

Despite failing to clean up the city for the Visit Perak Year 2012, the Mayor has again embarked on an impossible mission, grooming the city to regain its reputation as the cleanest in the country, ahead of Visit Malaysia 2014. The Mayor must be realistic. It is far beyond the capability of City Hall to achieve this target. He had admitted of not being able to clean the city because of indiscriminate dumping.

At present, drains in residential areas are cleaned once every few months and the large amount of rubbish are not collected for weeks or left permanently to rot on the road sides. The monthly collection of garden and other bulky rubbish is never on schedule and residents are forced to dump this rubbish wherever convenient. More dumps appear as the interval between each collection gets longer.

The trash collectors are also responsible for the illegal dumps. They are seen on their motorcycles heaping the bagged rubbish for collection by the dumpster. Spilled and damaged bags at these collection points are not their responsibility and soon become mini dumps.

Street sweeping in residential areas is no longer a service given by City Hall. Littering in the commercial areas will continue because there are very few litter bins. Pedestrians continue to lose rights as more businesses boldly display their wares on the pavement. The wet markets are just as dirty and congested. There is lax enforcement of law and order.

With such poor quality services, is it possible to maintain the city in an orderly and clean state? The four members of the state assembly and two members of parliament elected by the residents on promises to look after their interests have remained silent over the huge problem. City Councillors without executive powers, rely on the same lackadaisical MBI officers to resolve the similar complaints brought to their attention by residents. There were no zoning duties when the city was clean.

The mayor’s vision of a cleaner city was hampered by the lack of support and coordination from his senior officers and an inefficient workforce. Until such time that MBI is able to improve its services to a satisfactory level, City Hall should be very careful if it intends to blame the residents. The city would have been in a worse state if residents failed to cooperate. The state of the city is not solely due to littering but lack of commitment to develop Ipoh into an orderly spic and span city.

If City Hall is serious in cleaning up the city, it should cease all activities which does not benefit the residents. Set up a board of inquiry and take appropriate disciplinary action against all those who are responsible for this dirty state of the city.

Meanwhile, residents must wait patiently for the appointment of a Mayor of action and not words, to untangle the mess at City Hall.

City Guardian

Our Hopes for 2011

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By Fathol Zaman Bukhari

Over seventy per cent of the council’s revenue comes from assessment rates but collection is being hampered by a high percentage of defaulters…

Mayor Roshidi’s promise to turn “vision into reality” during a New Year address at the city council’s full-board meeting on Thursday, December 31, 2009 still reverberates in my mind. Details of this year-end meeting were summarised in the 89th issue of Ipoh Echo. The part that really caught my imagination was his acknowledgment that “Ipohites today are more demanding and savvy.”

Roshidi did not mince his words when he admitted, rather succinctly, that “amenities such as parks, green lungs, bicycle lanes, shaded pavements, public transport, libraries and a viable rubbish disposal strategy are integral to an efficient city council; one that does not compromise on quality.”

So where do we stand vis-à-vis the mayor’s pledge made at the closing stages of 2009? Some noteworthy progress is noted but is that enough? What happened to parks and green lungs? Polo Ground is as intractable as ever. The festering hawker problem does not seem to diminish in spite of promises. Bicycle lanes and shaded pavements? I don’t see any. Public transport? The same old buses are plying the same old routes. Although attempts at introducing newer buses are in place, the attitude of drivers and conductors does not match.

What about libraries? The condition of the two existing libraries, one managed by the state and the other by MBI, have not changed much. The same problems seem to beset both the libraries although there seems to be some effort at improving by the state-own library.

Rubbish disposal strategy? The same old tired system is still in use. Rubbish gets collected as per schedule but overall cleanliness is still unsatisfactory. Attitude of Ipohites is largely to be blamed for this blot. Efforts by the council to reduce the number of illegal dumpsites are commendable. However, there is little the council can do unless residents change their mindset.

The single most important attribute of a well-managed city council is finance. Hence, without financial clout no council, however “clean”, can operate effectively. Ipoh City Council is no exception. It works on a tight budget. The council’s operational expenses escalate annually, but most of the money goes towards paying its huge workforce – 2,600 personnel. Thus, money for infrastructure development and maintenance have to be requisitioned from the state or the federal government instead.

Over seventy per cent of the council’s revenue comes from assessment rates but collection is being hampered by a high percentage of defaulters. The problem will continue to haunt the council notwithstanding measures taken to counter the growing trend. In the spirit of openness, I sincerely hope the mayor will be more transparent with his numbers. Often, the figures quoted at full-board meetings do not add up.

The council has taken action to fine tune collection procedures by employing user-friendly methods like mobile counters and extending collection hours. The drive-in counter, adjacent to the council’s building, is now open to the public. These measures will come to nought if property owners continue to flout the law by defaulting on their payments.

The opening up of shopping complexes and malls in the city accentuates the parking problem. Residents’ hopes for a solution are being stymied by the council’s lack of viable action, one which will stand the test of time. The on-going dispute between MBI and the residents of Ipoh Garden over indiscriminate parking at de Garden is a case in point.

Haphazard planning results in uneven development in certain areas within the city. This is the primary cause of traffic congestion and the clogging of arterial roads. Concerted efforts are being taken by the council to address the problem, but are they visible enough?

Will 2011 be any different? I don’t wish to make a prediction. Roshidi is doing his best to realise his vision before he retires in 2013. “I hope to turn Ipoh into a vibrant city based on the concept of Bersih, Hijau dan Membangun (Clean, Green and Progressive),” he told news bureau chiefs during breakfast at a leading hotel recently. I wish him luck.

Way to Go, Ipohites!

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By Fathol Zaman Bukhari

It’s a mind game. We simply don’t have the resolve and wherewithal to be and remain clean. Look at Polo Ground. . .

We have been in publication for over five years and have heard nothing but stony silence from the authorities on issues raised by this paper. So it is yet another milestone that we are celebrating because for the first time a serving mayor of Ipoh responded personally to an article in Ipoh Echo. Our lead piece entitled, “Are We Ashamed of Ipoh’s Glorious Past” by Jerry Francis (IE 97) has struck a chord with Mayor Roshidi and he has taken the time to write an unsolicited letter giving his or rather MBI’s side of the story vis-à-vis the crumbling old buildings which Jerry had highlighted.

Mayor’s Comments

Concerned readers have given their two cents worth by commenting on the piece in Ipoh Echo’s website (see www.ipohecho.com.my). We received 25 comments, the highest for a single piece of news thus far. However, out of the lot, Roshidi’s response is the most poignant as it provides a glimpse of our mayor’s thinking and feelings.

Roshidi refers to Jerry’s piece as misleading, believing “it will give a negative perception of Ipoh, per se.” We all agree that looks have plenty to do with perception. “The eyes see only what the mind is prepared to comprehend”, says Robertson Davies, the famous Canadian novelist.

Art, Heritage or Eyesore

Perceptive power of the mind transcends the reality we see right in front of us.

So a derelict building with windows hanging on hinges, roof almost non-existent and walls crumbling is art in its purest form for some, heritage for a few and an eyesore for the rest. Whatever the mind wants to think, the mere presence of this dilapidated building, standing perilously, at the convergence of two arterial streets is definitely not the best sight. Therefore, the only sensible thing to do is to have it demolished. Levelling the building is less hazardous to the eyes and minds than to allow it to decay in full view of residents.

Special Committee

The mayor has alluded to a special committee formed from among the councillors to oversee the decaying buildings. Tracing the errant property owners is a priority he has justifiably imposed as a precondition. The committee’s functionality is, however, in doubt as the tenure of councillors came to an end last June. While waiting for fresh appointees, the said committee is being mothballed for good measure. Will it be revived? If past experience is anything to go by, a revival seems almost unlikely; unless the need is too overpowering and the reasons too damning.

While the committee drifts into obscurity and the property owners remain faceless and untraceable, Ipohites continue to suffer in silence. Do we have an option? Yes, we do but at what cost?

Roshidi comes with good credentials. He served Tajol Rosli as his private secretary and then assumed the post of MBI Secretary before taking over as mayor in 2008. The uncertainty of his re-appointment for a second term as mayor was put to rest when the Menteri Besar retained him in his post for a subsequent two-year term, effective June.

Action Plan

In his acceptance speech, Roshidi had pledged to assist the MB in realising the much-touted Governmental Transformational Programme and would initiate an action plan to convert the city into a pedestrian and vehicle-friendly haven similar in stature to Wenzhou in China. The fact that our MB has looked towards a Chinese city as a fitting model to emulate is totally unexpected, mindful of the impression we have about China.

The Chinese have, since the 2008 Olympics, made tremendous strides in developing their cities and towns. Today Beijing and Shanghai no longer look like what they were, say five years ago. The cities’ broad and tree-lined streets remind one of the West rather than the East. The transformation is monumental. Awesome is the word. Chinese haute culture is here to stay.

Chinese Experience

Sipping coffee at Starbucks at the entrance to the famous Silk Street bargain mall in downtown Beijing recently, I was dumbstruck by the modernity surrounding me. It looked as though I was on Orchard Road, Singapore. The streets were clean while the road shoulders were spotless. Although there are 5 million motor vehicles, of all makes and models in Beijing, traffic jams are no where near those in Kuala Lumpur. Surprisingly, there are no feral cats and stray dogs running wild like we see here in Ipoh.

How could the Chinese do so? Some attribute it to Communism. But to me, it is all a mind game. We simply don’t have the resolve and wherewithal to be and remain clean. Just look at Polo Ground. “It’s in your blood,” said Venera, my Uzbek sister-in-law, teasingly. She is damn right.

Way to go, Ipohites! Way to go! There is much to learn from the Chinese experience, warts and all.