JKKK village committees: Seeing double

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The rivalry between BN and Pakatan is now making people see double in kampungs and villages in Pakatan-ruled states. The federal government has appointed parallel village committees, adding an unnecessary layer of control at the local level.

This article from theSun:

Taking the battle to villages
Himanshu Bhatt

AS political pundits have their eyes glued on the race between rival parties at high legislative echelons of the country, few are aware of how much the battle has quietly spilled to the heartland, in villages and idyllic neighbourhoods hidden in the fringes of society.

The Penang government announced earlier this year that it was increasing the number of village committees, commonly known by their Malay abbreviation as JKKKs, in the state.

Ordinarily, such news would not have raised eyebrows. But the sheer number of new JKKKs introduced by the Pakatan Rakyat administration must surely have provoked a fair bit of curiosity. From having 142 JKKKs, the state set up another 149 new committees – effectively doubling the number of JKKKs to 291 in a single stroke.

And just as the state government was expanding its outreach to the numerous residential enclaves throughout Penang, the Barisan Nasional federal government too appeared to be up to some unusual scheme.

Even though the state already has JKKKs to serve the communities, the federal government decided to form its own federal village development and security committees (JKKKPs) – in many instances within the same neighbourhoods that already have state JKKKs.

The move inevitably raised confusion as well as questions. In certain areas, people were now facing the unusual predicament of having two village committees, each with their own penghulus (heads). If this situation was not perplexing enough, a question mark hung over the legality of the JKKKPs.

For while the JKKKs are formed by virtue of powers endowed by state enactment, there seem to be no federal laws that provide for the formation of similar village committees by the federal government.

The Pakatan Rakyat state government went as far as to label the JKKKPs as being tools to attack the state at the grassroots level, to try and marginalise the role of the JKKKs in these communities.

Other Opposition-led states, including Kelantan, have also in the past accused the federal government of interfering in local affairs by forming similar grassroots bodies. For example, the Federal Development Department formed in Kelantan was said to have appointed and supervised village committees that were required to report to the federal authorities.

It is obvious from this scenario that the potential of village authorities are viewed by the different governments with deep regard. Through the village committees, the government can effectively broaden its outreach to the common folk, exposing its programmes and policies to even more communities.

The JKKKs are critical as conduits for the state to transmit information to the grassroots. Indeed, they have also been entrusted to help the state in its voter registration drive.

Opposition assemblymen from Umno in the recent Penang Legislative Assembly questioned the state government for allegedly appointing members in the JKKKs based on their political affiliation, a claim state leaders have refuted.

It is perhaps no surprise, in view of the crucial role played by village leaders, that the state recently increased the allowances for chairpersons and secretaries in each JKKK by RM100.

One can perhaps understand the state government’s inclination to have JKKKs they can keep good control over. Since winning the elections and assuming power in 2008, Pakatan Rakyat state officials have often complained that JKKKs appointed by the previous Barisan Nasional state government were littered with scandals, including missing funds.

Some former JKKK chairmen were even alleged to have not handed over keys of the committee halls after they had been removed by the Pakatan Rakyat administration.

Certainly, it cannot be discounted that village committees are not just political pawns, but play a strong role in welfare and development.

The JKKKs, for example, are actively helping to reach out to disabled people, senior citizens and single mothers in registering for state programmes that benefit these groups.

But one cannot help but notice the intriguing political dimension in this whole affair, in which the battle for political influence has been inevitably caused to spill down to the grassroots in the very heartland of the country.

Himanshu is theSun’s Penang bureau chief.

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ramli

Control the village heads (with goodies of course) and you will get the votes from the kampung flers with the influence from the head. This is the umno-way.

Yang

Why do we keep wanting to have a government that keep broking the law or is biased. What should we do?????

Eloi

The JKKK started by the state government (Pakatan) is the legitimate one created by state enactment. They are following the law of the state. The JKKK created by federal government (Barisan) is not recognised and goes against the law of the state. Yes, they broke the law. They do not have PERMIT and they did not apply for one either! They should be persecuted(prosecuted) to the extent of the LAW! (Elaborated for certain commentators and agitators on this blog) The “legitimate government” is doing the RIGHT thing by moving to its grassroots. It is important to disseminate the proper vision… Read more »

Gerakan K

Shadow cabinet = OK
Shadow JKKK = no no ???

ivan ho

Yes I have no problem with shadow JKKK if not using my tax money to pay. Stupid! It’s your money too unless you are either not paying your taxes or you are receiving money from BN.

kingkong

Gerakan K

Happy to have you as shadow oppostion here because you are not paid like the shadow cabinet. But the Gerakan/UMNO shadow JKKK= Paid by taxpayers as UMNO/Gerakan parties are pokkai oredi.
Why not ask Gerakan/UMNO government to form shadow State Government and Local councils too. Guess to pokkai to pay them?

Christine Yong

On one hand, the villagers have to thank BN for the favaour. This is resulting from the good PKR government. BN has to do something to compete instead of sitting on their butt thinking how to cari makan more! On the other hand, the state needs to check constitutions to check what BN is doing is allowed or need to go through the state government. They will cari makan with every project they have their hands in !!

Sean

The mind boggles. Isn’t this all just serving to entrench feudalism? Why can’t the state just send their welfare / outreach staff to the villages or do mail-shots and clinics? How much is the JKKK allowance? Is it so much cheaper than a mailshot? Is the coverage as good? Is the message delivered as reliably? This sounds antediluvian.

kumar

The more computers installed by BN in kampung or rural areas (cinta IT initiatives) will surely backfire on them sooner or later as ignorant kampong folks will realize every national issu stirred has more dimensions than reported by mainstream media eg Utusan #%[email protected]*

Having said that, may be Penghulu still the person they look up to. So just make sure every Penghulu being well fed materially (forget about spiritually)