Monday, July 03, 2006

Will they pay attention to a Sultan?

Citizen Nades has shouted himself hoarse over the billboards issue in Petaling Jaya, amongst others equally exasperating stuff like the still unresolved funeral parlour case.

The local city council pretended to be deaf. The Mentri Besar of Selangor Maju pretended to be deaf and blind. Even a direct appeal to the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) did not yield any desired results. Can you blame the poor man for almost wanting to throw in his towel?

So now, we have the Sultan himself stepping in to demand some answers to all the questions raised by the residents. For starters, we have this from The Star frontpage news today:-

City of billboards: SULTAN steps in

SHAH ALAM: The Sultan of Selangor is upset that Petaling Jaya, which attained city status less than three weeks ago, has claimed the title of “Billboard City.”

Squeezed into its 97 sq km are some 800 billboards, of which only 282 have been issued permits.

And Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah has ordered newly-appointed Petaling Jaya Mayor Datuk Ahmad Termizi Puteh to explain why the city council is dragging its feet in stopping the excessive number of illegal billboards.

The Sultan also wants to find out more about the mounting complaints from the public and press reports about the proliferation of billboards in the city.

His personal aide Kelvin Ong said the Sultan was surprised by the huge number of billboards in the city.

“The Tuanku wants to know whether these reports are true and why there is such a huge number of illegal billboards. He wants to know what the council is doing about criticism that Petaling Jaya has become a city of billboards.

“He also wants to emphasise the importance of accountability, transparency, good governance and credibility of the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) to the Datuk Bandar as the city is barely a month old,” he told The Star in a telephone interview from London.

The Sultan, who is in London, is expected to call up Ahmad Termizi and other officials when he returns home.

Ong said the Sultan had been closely monitoring press reports on the issue and was concerned.

The billboard issue, which included a privatisation proposal to a consortium for 15 years to cover billboard advertising, had sparked protests from city residents.

However, last week Ahmad Termizi said that the council had scrapped the proposal in May and that no agreement had been signed. He admitted that the council had received the proposal but had not gone to the stage of approving it.

When told that his statement was contradictory to what was contained in the minutes of a previous meeting on the issue, he said the agreement stated was only in principle and that the council had not gone through the proposal at that time.

The plan has been opposed by the All PJ Pro Action Committee, which claimed that the privatisation of billboards was unacceptable and could be illegal as there was no provision for it under the Local Government Act 1976.

The proposal was also opposed by the Real Estate Federation Malaysia, Real Estate and Housing Developers Association of Malaysia, Selangor branch, and the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia.

The groups had questioned the condition imposed by the consortium to prohibit property owners from putting up advertisements on their own properties, which would affect many colleges and shopping complexes.

Another hot issue was the allegation that MBPJ had imposed a minimum donation of RM10,000 to the MBPJ Football Club before contractors could apply for advertisement billboard approvals from the council.

It has been reported that the Registrar of Societies has no record of such a football club, while residents who checked the council's summarised accounts from 2000 to 2004 could not find evidence of the club's monies or revenue from billboard advertising.

The MBPJ has reportedly said that the MBPJ Football Club accounts were not for public scrutiny as the club was a separate entity and there was no need for residents to check.


We may never see the likes of Citizen M being bothered about PJ residents or local council issues.

But it is certainly heartening to read that His Majesty the Sultan of Selangor being concerned enough to take up the matter which no one else in authority wants to tackle.

Remember the fiasco when the Selangor MB said "Semuanya OK" in reference to the massive rape of the greenery surrounding the Bukit Cahaya Seri Alam Agricultural Park?

Do you know what is going on there now?



Blogger Maverick SM said...

We are not seeing things which ought to be seen. They erected the smoke screen. The Authorities are getting bolder by the day.

4/7/06 00:33  
Blogger Anak Merdeka said...

Hey Mave, I like the Qs u posed to Bakri at Desi's place. You speak for us all, okay?

4/7/06 08:24  
Anonymous julthefool said...

I hadn't noticed all this... It's quite surreal really - this Sports club thing for example: in any efficient system Termizi & co. should be hauled up before a court or something already... Anyway, if the Sultan does stick to his guns it will be difficult for the press and the powers-that-be to ignore him. Royalty may have some use after all?

5/7/06 20:21  
Blogger Anak Merdeka said...

Where politicians failed to address obvious wrongs, it is only right for our Royal Highnesses to step in and not let the country go to the dogs.

But exactly how effective the Sultan can be remains to be seen.

Citizen Nades opined in THE SUN today that in all likelihood, the state govt and local authority will not give 2 hoots to the Sultan's demands.

They'll probably do the "elegant silence" thingy and wait for the hooha to die down, as usual.

Sad, isn't it JUL?

6/7/06 10:40  

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