The Kajang Move is one of the most hotly discussed topics of conversations in coffee-shops and homes across the country at the moment.
Now, Selangor Mentri Besar Khalid Ibrahim has a reputation for being scrupulous in protecting public funds not only from being squandered or frittered away but also from falling into the grubby hands of politicians who want a slice of the pie for their own vested interests or for partisan purposes. Many Malaysians appreciate him for that and it is no wonder that Khalid is so popular after the disastrous stewardship of Selangor under Umno’s Khir Toyo.
But on the flip side of the coin, PKR treasurer general William Leong paints a grim picture of the present situation in this excerpt from a recent comment piece:
It is acknowledged by all from Pakatan Rakyat to his BN opponents, in particular, the Auditor General Reports that Khalid had been financially prudent in running the state.
However, implementation of state projects have not been satisfactory. One example is the Auditor General 2012 Report which revealed that Selangor only spent RM640.24 million or 56.3% of the RM1.14 billion it received from the federal government for the maintenance of non-federal roads between 2010 and 2012.
Even though the underspending accumulated RM631.27 million in surplus, the report said it reflected inefficiency in managing funds provided by the federal government.
Furthermore, the report said a survey conducted by the Auditor General Office of 545 respondents in Klang, Gombak and Shah Alam showed 80% of them expressing dissatisfaction with the condition of the local roads.
Other problems include woes caused by recurring flash floods and lack of flood-mitigation projects. However, it has since been discovered that the Selangor Public Works Department spent only RM45 million out of a RM67 million budgeted in 2012.
Therefore, there are efficiency and coordination issues that have to be addressed.
Khalid cannot be faulted entirely because he inherited a civil service with a five-decade culture of inefficiency and complacency.
However, Anwar is correct in being concerned with the tardiness in taking action and implementing measures for the benefit of the people.
Anwar at the November 24, 2013 special congress in Shah Alam said: “Pakatan Rakyat’s achievements are not measured in terms of whether there is a surplus or deficit in the budget but how we prioritise the needs of the public.”
It is giving priority to the people’s needs that is the ultimate objective of the Kajang by-election.
Besides inefficiency, there is also sabotage and non-cooperation by the agencies and privatised entities.
The public may not realise that throughout Khalid’s administration, he has had to do battle with forces bent on retaking the state through the withholding of services and non-cooperation by these agencies and privatised entities.
One example is Alam Flora’s sudden termination of municipal waste collection services. The state had to scramble to appoint contractors to avert a disaster.
Another is the water supply shortages when the dams are full.
In the ongoing and protracted negotiations for the state to wrest back control of water distribution and the holding back of the Langat 2 Project, the National Water Services Commission (SPAN) has put on hold 878 development projects on the ground that there will be insufficient water supply in the future while Khalid points to the fact that there is sufficient supply presently.
The satisfactory resolution of these issues must not be at the expense of the Selangor people and requires the cooperation and talents of not only Khalid but all Pakatan Rakyat leaders, including Anwar.
Khalid, Azmin and all of the PKR leadership support the Kajang by-election because they are fully aware that Malaysians are about to face the perfect storm of economic hardship coupled with heightened political tensions.
There is an urgent need to batten down the hatches and strengthen the Selangor government leadership.
It is not a case of changing horses midstream.
It is to recognise that there are horses for courses.
So what do you think? Is Khalid’s scrupulous administration of public funds sufficient grounds to retain the status quo? Or are the reasons provided by William Leong sufficient justification for the Kajang Move?