Monday, May 22, 2006

Local Councils and Govt Agencies Given Too Much Power?

Recently there was front page news that MPPJ, a local municipal council, acted to stop the construction work being carried out by the Federal govt. The council cited jurisdiction and the failure to obtain their permission to carry out work. It was being carried out on federal land, nobody was inconvenienced and it wasn't costing the council a cent. But proper respect wasn't paid and their 'permission' was not obtained.

Just recently, the High Court ruled that it was within a local councils powers to fine the public if they behaved indecently. This stemmed from the incident of a young couple who were caught & fined by the local authority for allegedly hugging and kissing in KLCC park. The couple maintain that it was merely a peck on the cheek and in addition, were fined after refusing to offer a bribe. Are local councils entitled to become the moral police? Can they be trusted to carry out such sensitive and far-reaching enforcement impartially and professionally? Is it even possible to enforce such vague moral laws? Even the cabinet have acknowledged that there is no applicable definition of indecent behaviour, but this has not stopped the local councils from enforcing actions against it.

Some time ago, the enforcement personnel of the JPJ or Road Transport Dept were allowed to carry firearms. The rationale was that they sometimes dealt with offenders like tontos who possessed weapons. Local councils have also asked for firearms for their enforcement units since they sometimes face hard core criminals who protect sellers of pirated discs etc. Should they be given firearms? Do they have the training? More importantly, do they have the discipline, ethics and self control when dealing with guns? Can we guarantee they will not abuse the increased firepower against normal road users or petty hawkers who are charged of mere misdemeanours? Wouldn't it be more appropriate to obtain assistance from the police, rather than arm poor trained, poorly educated personnel?


Anonymous said...

To me, most, if not all, of the municipal councils are the epitome of corruptness, shoddiness, ignorance, negligence and incompetence. Majlis Perbandaran/Bandaraya Boleh!

RM10k+ lamp posts, resurfaced roads that last only a few months before disintegrating (and that's BEFORE TNB or TM dug any holes to lay cables or water pipes and have them shoddily patched!), etc. etc.

Someone suggested in the papers that we hold our MPs/state assemblymen accountable for the actions of local council staff, so that we can use our votes to let them know whether they are doing a good job. Maybe we should implement this system until we can have direct election to select local council reps.

seantang said...

From the 'close one eye' incident, MPs and state assemblymen are not even accountable for their own actions. No chance they'll be accountable for the actions of council staff who don't report directly to them.