Monday, April 28, 2008

Next Ipoh mayor from private sector - NST

IPOH: March 13, 2008

A professional from the private sector is expected to be appointed the new mayor in the wake of the change in state government following the general election.

Ipoh mayor Datuk Mohd Rafiai Moktar, 55, a former president of the Perak Tengah district council, is expected to return to the federal civil service.

The change of guard at city hall here is expected to be followed by the appointment of new presidents to the municipal councils of Taiping, Kuala Kangsar, Manjung and Teluk Intan.

It is understood that new heads will also be appointed to the district councils of Gerik, Kerian, Kinta Barat, Kinta Selatan, Lenggong, Pengkalan Hulu, Perak Tengah, Selama and Tanjung Malim.

The 22-member Ipoh city council is also expected to see, among others, the appointment of experts from non-governmental organisations as councillors.

These are part of across-the- board changes in all 15 local councils in the state with the imminent installation of the new state government comprising the DAP, PKR and Pas.

The Ipoh city council, the largest of the local authorities in the state, has been criticised by civil groups for poor performance in carrying out basic municipal duties, fiscal management and in ensuring an effective public delivery system.

Leaders of the Perak DAP, the major coalition partner with 18 state seats, declined comment on proposed changes at top level in local authorities. They said the matter would be dealt with soon.

Section 10(1) of the Local Government Act 1976, vests the power of appointing the mayor or president of the local authority, as well as local councillors, in the state government.

Some serving local councillors said they were unsure of what would happen to their positions when the new state government came to power.

"I have not received any communication from my party or the Datuk Bandar (Mohd Rafiai). However, I will wait till I receive notice to step down from the new government," councillor T. Murugiah of the PPP said.

Citizens' groups such as the Ipoh Ratepayers and Taxpayers Association (Irata) and the Ipoh City Watch (ICW) will be watching the coalition to see if it will appoint non-politicians as councillors.

"This is the time for DAP to show how serious it is about direct public participation in the decision-making process in local authorities. For a long time, the party has been fighting for a cleaner and more efficient local council.

"The new state government should appoint councillors from non-governmental organisations," saik Victor Sankey, Irata deputy president.

ICW secretary Jefri Palpernarvan hoped the new state government would not field budding politicians from the DAP, PKR and Pas as councillors.

Meanwhile, DAP national vice-chairman and Ipoh Barat MP M. Kulasegaran said expectations were high with many wanting a sea change among councillors.

The PKR-Pas joint manifesto states that one-third of councillors will be non-politicians.

Kulasegaran said this could be used as a yardstick by the new state government in the appointment of councillors.

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