JOHOR BARU, July 13 — A democracy advocacy group urged the Johor government today to hasten the appointment of local councillors.
Engage chairman Thomas Fann said local councillors have yet to be appointed to any of the city or municipal councils in the state, more than two months after Pakatan Harapan (PH) took over the state.
“Engage hopes that Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Osman Sapian or the state Local Government, Science and Technology Committee chairman Tan Hong Pin can explain to the public on what is holding up the appointment of local councillors in the state.
“Without local councillors, many ratepayers would be at a loss if they want to engage meaningfully with their councils,” he said in a statement today.
Fann added that the role of local councillors was vital for the administration and maintenance of communities.
“They act as a bridge between local authorities and ratepayers, helping to shape policies on local issues that affect every resident like the use of public spaces, illegal structures, hawkers, cleanliness and hygiene,” he explained.
Fann also urged that only men and women of integrity, honesty and humility who have a track record of service to the public be appointed as local councillors.
He also said that the councillors must be accountable to the public even though they are appointed by political parties.
“We do not want to have councillors who are unresponsive to the residents in their zones or who are corrupt,” said Fann.
Fann also explained that the expectation of Johoreans were high for the new state government after the May 9 general election.
He said the public expected a more responsive and effective government and local authorities where tangible improvements can be seen.
“We believe many citizens are ready to contribute to making their communities more liveable and the government must seize this opportunity to engage them through these appointed local councillors,” said Fann.
“Engage welcomes the commitment made by Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin to bring back local government elections within the next three years.
“The return of the third vote for citizens to elect their local councillors would enfranchise rate payers who were rendered voiceless in the management of their communities when local elections were abolished in 1965.”
Yesterday, Malay Mail reported Tan as saying that the Johor government intends to empower local councillors with decision and policy making powers in preparation for local council elections.
Tan, who is also the Skudai assemblyman, however said this should avoid duplication of roles between local councillors and state assemblymen.