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Not proper for MPs to sit on DBKL advisory board, says ex-councillor

Published:  |  Modified:

Kuala Lumpur MPs should form a new committee to oversee the Kuala Lumpur City Hall instead of sitting on its advisory board themselves, says lawyer Derek Fernandez.

Fernandez said it is not proper for MPs to sit on DBKL’s advisory boards because they have a different mandate, and the situation could lead to “an unhealthy political standoff.”

“Under the law, the chairperson of the advisory board is the mayor, who is entitled to overrule the advisory board on any matter provided the reasons are recorded in the minutes.

“If MPs of the ruling coalition were to sit in the board or committees, the mayor would – from an administrative standpoint – be unable to exercise this power even if he has valid grounds for doing so, and if he attempts to do so, he may be embroiled in an unhealthy political standoff which he cannot win.

“Worse, his position as chief executive of the city hall will be blurred,” he said in a statement today.

Fernandez, a former Petaling Jaya city councillor whose tenure lapsed on June 30, said the situation is also akin to putting political nominees on the advisory board, although these are elected MPs.

He was responding to a report by the Malay Mail yesterday that quoted Segambut MP and Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Hannah Yeoh as saying that Kuala Lumpur MPs who are not ministers and deputy ministers would be appointed to DBKL’s advisory board.

She said this is the best way to ensure Kuala Lumpur residents have representation in DBKL while Harapan works to implement local council elections over the next few years.

The Malay Mail also reported yesterday that all seven political appointees had resigned from the DBKL advisory board, and quoted Federal Territories Minister Khalid Abdul Samad as saying that Kuala Lumpur MPs should sit on the board instead.

Form new advisory committee

Fernandez warned that if MPs are allowed to sit on the DBKL advisory board and the situation is not handled properly, this could be perceived as an excuse to delay local government elections and usurp local power, even if this is not the government’s intention.

He also noted that then-Pakatan Rakyat states had previously imposed a rule whereby state assemblypersons would not be allowed to sit in local governments, because of the danger of abuse of power and politicisation of local governments.

“These were the allegations made against BN state assemblypersons prior to 2008 by the then opposition parties now in government. It was therefore a Pakatan policy that assemblypersons not sit on local councils,” he said.

Pakatan Rakyat was the precursor to the Pakatan Harapan coalition, and controlled five states after the 2008 general election, namely Kedah, Penang, Perak, Selangor, and Kelantan.

Instead of MPs sitting on the DBKL advisory board, Fernandez said a better interim mechanism to ensure representation in DBKL is to form a new advisory or executive committee at the Federal Territories Ministry.

“Under the law, the federal territories minister can issue policy directives to the mayor that must be complied (with). This committee should comprise of all federal territories MPs and it is in this forum that the Kuala Lumpur MPs can properly exercise oversight over DBKL and the mayor on general policy matters.

“In fact, in the state governments, this would be known as the exco or its administrative arm (such as the Economic Action Council) and the like,” he said.

Under this arrangement, he said, the federal territories minister would act in consultation with the committee members, so that any policy or directives are informed by the voice of the people, as conveyed through the various Kuala Lumpur MPs on the committee.

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