These councilors and their things

APRIL 20 — I work for the people of Timah Langat, which is one of the three zones in Dengkil. (Please refer to the bottom for a fuller description of Dengkil)

They are good people. They don’t expect too much from government. It’s the same across this country. We have come to a point where people just hope for government intervention to improve their lives, not demand it.

And they often look at me with that cynicism, and I can’t blame them.

In the 10 months I have been a local councilor, everything has been a struggle.

To begin with we are not fulltime. We have our zones, but we are in charge of the whole of the town council. Majlis Perbandaran Sepang. Six times the size of Petaling Jaya.

Cyberjaya. Parts of Puchong. Parts of Bangi. The whole of Sepang town, including a F1 circuit. My Dengkil. KLIA – main and LCCT. 2/3rds of UPM. Salak Tinggi. And little talked about Jenderam.

Every councilor is tasked to drive the growth, or at least deliver the basic local government. Keep drains running; Tar roads, light them and traffic manage them; cut the grass and enliven communities with leisure zones; municipal eateries that entice; approve building plans that meet technical, legal and community needs; and a whole bunch of things.

All for the ostentatious pay of RM750 per month. Seven hundred fifty ringgit. That is roughly five hours of teaching an undergraduate class.

We’ll lose our financial stability if we only serve as councilors, and we’ll lose momentum and energy if we have a day job.

There are responsibilities emerging as and when, and there are powers never disclosed — so we struggle to impose ourselves.

It is like a playing a game. But you only start the second half and you are three down, with the goalposts shifting constantly.

The 300-odd employees of the council are to assist us, but every encounter is cloak and dagger. The job application form for the council we found out asked for party affiliation. You can imagine which party most of them belong to overtly.

You have to ask closed questions, not open questions, if you want an answer. And hard questions are handed around until you forget about them or their relevance loses traction.

Imagine the daily quandaries.

Not all drains and roads are ours. State and Federal works department own many, and the accompanying land. They have to clean them, and they have to manage the grass-cutting. Yet the quick answer to our queries would be that there is no funding for it.

We rely heavily on our technical staff to advice us on the technical specifications of building plans, development plans and every other plan/development. And the advice is rarely user friendly, if anything they are meant to keep us guessing.

The change

We’ve have made strides.

The smokescreens remain, we have learnt some circumnavigation.

What we lack in know-how, we have to make up with ingenuity and doggedness.

I’m going to share some of those developments in my future postings. Local government might be quite unexciting, but it is the nuts and bolts end of governing. So maybe it might interest some.

Dengkil is a township located just south of the national administrative capital, Putrajaya. Many of the residents are employed in Putrajaya or for companies providing services to that city. The population of the townships farily unique. There are the various villages, like Chemperai and Dato’ Amad Razali, and then there are estates workers relocated in Dengkil. The main estate is Ampar Tenang, and a coterie of settlements have been placed in Taman Permata and Timah Langat for those who used to reside in estates which now make up Putrajaya. The mining industry which has now has become main tracts providing sand for the growing sand selling business in Selangor.

They are two Orang Asli villages and one primary school for their community. Dengkil has two entry points into Putrajaya, skirts also the new highway built to KLIA from the city. On the south-eastern fringe it connects to the old coastal road to Klang through Banting. Most of the students will spend most of their schooling to form five within the town.

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