KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 5 — After 22 months of serving his constituency as part of the then-ruling coalition, Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil finds himself now part of the Opposition bloc.
But pretty much nothing else has changed for the first-term MP who is determined to achieve the goals he has set for 2020.
“There are two major initiatives which I wanted to do for Lembah Pantai this year. One is the job centre which took off recently and the other is to try to adopt 100 families and take them out of poverty.
“It’s not so much the number of families I wanted to adopt because there are so many other poor families out there.
“But it’s about getting government agencies to look at how their approach to urban poverty can be improved,” he told Malay Mail.
A helping hand for Lembah Pantai
According to Fahmi, he was moved to embark on these two projects based on his encounters with his constituents. Quite simply, he wanted to help them find a solution to bread and butter issues.
With the job centre which was launched towards the end of September, he hopes to reach out to those looking for jobs but may not have access to the right channels.
As for the family adoption, he said that he is looking at lifting families off the poverty line, not just in terms of income but also quality of life and education.
Among other ongoing initiatives that Fahmi is working on is the introduction to the idea of a “third vote” — through a very local issue such as the Joint Management Body (JMB).
For example, he said, in Taman Sri Sentosa — an area that is located within his constituency — instead of residents relying on government support, Fahmi is determined to help residents set up their respective JMBs which were not functioning as they should be.
This will help them administer their buildings better. “I’m not saying we should reduce the amount of assistance, but I find that this is a form of fundamental hyper-local democracy.
“A lot of people in Kuala Lumpur are asking for the third vote (to elect their choice of local councillors and the mayor). To me it’s important when we look at what we already have in terms of our votes.
“The Commissioner of Buildings (COB) had in 2018 said out of 5,000 strata properties, 95 per cent have not conducted AGMs (annual general meeting) for that year, and 97 per cent have not submitted audited accounts.
“Which means almost every strata property in Kuala Lumpur is badly managed,” he said.
Fixing local issues
So at Taman Sri Sentosa, Fahmi said his team is working together with the COB to engage with residents to reactivate their JMBs.
“For me, if we make the third vote a goal, we need to make some fundamental reforms regarding civic education on what it means to participate in democracy.
“My hope and my wish is that residents in Lembah Pantai understand that when they pay maintenance, that is a form of tax — a hyper-local tax — in exchange for paying maintenance fees, they are giving up a particular right for the building to be managed in a certain way.
“Now I’m trying to get them to be interested (in the idea of a third vote) because the strata management says that you can only be involved for about three years, after that you have let go, and let others take over,” he said.
In other words, the COB wants the whole building’s owners to participate.
Fahmi said right now participation is poor because people do not understand the relationship between paying for maintenance fees and their role as a homeowner.
“If we want to introduce a third vote, we’ve got to get this right, and get it right, now.
“Although a lot of has changed because of the movement control order (restriction of movement due to the Covid-19 outbreak), a number of places in Taman Sri Sentosa have conducted their AGMs because some have not met for years,” he said.
However, there are also residents who want a management agent to be appointed for them because they can’t afford to take on the responsibility, he said.
By the end of October, Fahmi said at least four places out of the 10 in Taman Sri Sentosa will be getting their management agents, indicating that this is an increase by 10 per cent after his team took over.
In July, the Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin said a study was being done on how the third vote or local council elections can be conducted.
She reportedly said that the study will be completed in 2021 and will be presented to the Cabinet before it is tabled.
She, however, seemed to have reversed her interest to see matter through when she announced in August that the PN government had said “no” to local council elections.
Defending Lembah Pantai
Fahmi said much more needs to be done in Lembah Pantai, and this includes land matters.
To see all these through, he will defend his seat come the 15th general election.
Confirming that he intends to stay on for a second term, Fahmi said his support on the ground at the moment is good.
“The assessment so far is that the majority of the people, based on some internal surveys that we’ve done, the majority of Lembah Pantai knows that I’m the the MP here and the assessment is that, support is good,
“I’ve made it a policy for my office to be colour blind, not only in terms of ethnicity or religious background, but also political affiliation.
“In fact there were times when people asked me if I was sure I wanted to help an Umno supporter but it’s not about being Umno or not, so long as they are residents or voters in Lembah Pantai, they have a legitimate claim on me as I am their MP,” he said.
“I didn’t become a politician to make money, or to become a minister. I became a politician because my parents were civil servants and I felt that the work that they were doing was impacted because there were bad policies.
“I wanted to change that and so I threw myself into the system. I don’t expect others to do the same but I hope that people will see the value of their vote and care enough to come out to vote,” he said referring to the recent Sabah state election where some contenders won by as little as 10 votes.
In the 2018 general election, Fahmi won the Lembah Pantai seat bagging 33,313 votes with a 5,598 majority against Datuk Seri Raja Nong Chik Zainal Abidin.