KL folk want new FT minister to be ‘hands on’

Noel Achariam

Kuala Lumpur folk want Federal Territories Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa to be responsive to their needs in terms of their wellbeing. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, December 14, 2023.

KUALA Lumpur folk want newly minted Federal Territories Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa to be responsive to their needs in terms of their wellbeing.

“What will she be doing to enhance the living standards of KL folk in terms of health, education, housing, high cost of living and others?

“We want the new minister to be ‘hands on’, be in the field and listen to the grouses of the people,” Save Kuala Lumpur chairman M. Ali told The Malaysian Insight.

Ali said the people would like to see her short- and long-term plans that will benefit KL folk.

“We want her to see the difficulties, hardships faced by the people and look for solutions.

“What’s her role, function and contribution to the community?

“She should visit all the constituencies here to find out the basic issues. Then she will understand the needs of KL folk.”

Zaliha, who previously served as health minister, had her portfolio changed after a year by Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim in his cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday.

A spokesman for the Federal Territories Department clarified that currently there are no plans to revive the Federal Territories Ministry and Zaliha was now in charge of the department.

The ministry was replaced by the department, which came under the purview of the Prime Minister’s Department, in December last year.

The last Federal Territories minister was then Arau MP Shahidan Kassim, who held the portfolio from August 2021 until last year’s general election.

Ali also agreed the ministry should not be revived.

“There is already the Kuala Lumpur mayor to handle issues in the city and the department.

“Since the department exists, there shouldn’t be any move to revive the ministry.

“If it is to be revived, then it will create unnecessary wastage of taxpayers funds in terms of infrastructure, manpower and others.”

Ali said they will be writing to the department to request for a meeting with Zaliha as soon as possible, especially on the Kuala Lumpur City Plan 2040 draft.

“We would like to interact and relay the needs of the KL communities on the draft plan.”

He also reiterated their stand for local council elections as they want the mayor and other Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL) officials to be accountable to the people.

“We have been advocating for the elections to be reinstated for many years.”

KL Pakatan Harapan chairman Tan Kok Wai says Federal Territories Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa should meet the 11 MPs representing the capital’s electorate to familiarise herself with issues and get accurate feedback on the areas. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, December 14, 2023.

Community engagement needed

Kuala Lumpur Pakatan Harapan chairman Tan Kok Wai meanwhile said he does not see the need for a minister to oversee the affairs of the Federal Territories.

However, he said since the appointment was done, the minister needs to engage with the community.

“We hope the minister will be in the field to engage with the public.

“There also should be regular town hall meetings to better understand the needs of the people.

“We, the 11 MPs in KL, understand our constituencies the best. So, she should meet us to familiarise herself with the issues here and get accurate feedback on our areas.

“We hope she will bring about legislative and institutional reforms. I will also be contacting her for a meeting.”

The Cheras MP also said what they want to see is the democratic elections of the mayor and DBKL.

“If a mayor is elected then there is no need for a minister to oversee City Hall management.

“We claim to be a democratic nation but our local government elections have been suspended since 1965.

“Look at our neighbouring countries – Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia – all of which have mayors who are democratically elected.

“So, local government elections should be restored in KL.”

He added this was crucial as previously the ministry had proven to be ineffective in making KL a great city.

“There was political intervention when there was an overlap of duties and power among the mayor, minister and officials.

“Taxpayers’ money was used to fund a ministry that didn’t serve its purpose.” – December 14, 2023.

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