Thu, 19 Jun 2003

Malaysians expect quality services

Lee Lam Thye, New Straits Times, Kuala Lumpur

Time and again we have seen how laws are being flouted by those who have no regard for the law but who get away unpunished due to poor enforcement.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Rais Yatim commented recently that escalating public complaints on the lack of enforcement by government agencies and local authorities in solving social and infrastructure problems had become a cause for concern for the Government.

The minister pointed out that it was important for the police, immigration and local government personnel to be aware of the need to discharge their responsibilities as government servants.

Rais said enforcement officers should speedily address problems of uncollected rubbish, pornography, unlawful gambling, illegal immigrants and other illegal and wrongful activities according to the provisions of the laws.

Poor law enforcement poses a serious problem that has far- reaching repercussions on good governance.

The Cabinet expressed serious concern over enforcement problems and the level of efficiency in many local governments and wanted immediate steps taken to rectify the situation.

The Special Cabinet Committee on Good Governance was reported to have met and discussed various problems following the controversy over allegations of corruption involving Ampang Jaya Municipal Council officials.

The Cabinet had emphasized that all rules and regulations concerning administration, services and enforcement at the local government level had to be adhered to strictly without any excuse to maintain public confidence in the system.

With each passing day, local government becomes more and more significant in terms of acquiring the capacity to deal with the many issues and finding quick and effective answers to community needs and services.

Local government, instead of being the lowest level of government, should become the highest in terms of the people's need for services. All local authorities should strive to give their best service and be accountable to the people they serve.

Residents are entitled to their rights and should stand up for better and more efficient services from the local authorities.

Local authorities are the level of Government closest to the people.

They are the managers of urban environments, while the communities are the stakeholders. Therefore, all local councils must be professional, transparent and efficient.

All local authorities need to take steps to ensure transparency and all their personnel including enforcement officers must carry out their duties professionally, fairly and justly.

All State Governments should monitor the activities of local authorities and report to the Federal Government.

The Prime Minister warned that local council officers who shirked their responsibilities would be replaced, adding that the Government took a serious view of the increasing number of public complaints against local councils.

In all fairness, it has to be pointed out that not all officers are inefficient and involved in malpractices. There are many who have served with dedication and commitment.

But for those "black sheep" who bring the local authorities into disrepute, drastic action has to be taken to remove them as any form of malpractice cannot be condoned.