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Khir Toyo exposes himself as a “half-past six” Mentri Besar for the past six years when he does not know that what he wants Parliament to amend in the Local Government Act to appoint professionals as councilors had always been in the law in the past 30 years

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang  


(Parliament, Tuesday) :  Datuk Seri Mohamad Khir Toyo has exposed himself as a “half-past six” Mentri Besar for the past six years when he does not know that what he wants Parliament to amend in the Local Government Act to appoint professionals as councillors had always been in the law in the past 30 years.


Yesterday, Khir tried to defend himself against  attacks from all quarters for his failure of leadership in not acting earlier in the Zakaria Deros scandal until Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah had  stepped in with his public admonition and directive to  the Port Klang State Assemblyman to resign as Klang municipal councillor – which was a public royal “slap-in-the-face” for the Selangor Mentri Besar.


Khir now claimed that Zakaria was asked to  step down as Klang municipal councillor before the latter’s  audience with Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah although it had not been made public earlier – and that  Zakaria  had also been asked to inform the sultan during the audience of his “impending resignation” as Klang municipal councilor.


I do not know how many will believe Khir when there is now the political charade of the Port Klang Umno giving full support to Zakaria to remain as Port Klang municipal councillor. 


In any event, Khir can only claim that he had acted before the Selangor Sultan if he can prove that he had directed Zakaria to resign as Klang municipal councilor before the Sultan first summoned Zakaria to an audience on October 22, which Zakaria evaded and played “truant” for a week.


What is most shocking is Khir’s ignorance about the most basic provisions in the law about the appointment of local councillors.


Touching on the appointment of councillors, Khir said candidates were vetted by the police and the Anti-Corruption Agency to ensure those appointed were of high integrity and responsibility.


He said following the controversy, the state government had decided to introduce two new measures in the appointment of councillors: to allow not more than two people who were related to be appointed to a council and to ensure those appointed did not have any payment arrears with the councils they were going to serve in.

Khir  said the state wanted more professionals to serve on the councils and, to facilitate this, it would propose that the Local Government Act be amended.


What Khir meant was spelt out clearly in the official statement of the Selangor state government reported by Bernama:


“The statement explained that the appointment of councillors was made on the recommendation of leaders of Barisan Nasional component parties whereby the MCA candidates would be selected by the MCA president, the MIC candidates by the MIC president and the Gerakan candidates by the Gerakan president while Umno candidates were usually referred to by the relevant division chiefs, as agreed to at a meeting of the state Umno liaison committee.

”The statement said Dr Mohamad Khir had proposed that the Local Government Act 1976 be amended to allow the appointment of professionals as councillors in their respective areas to have people of varied backgrounds sitting on the councils.

"’The state government hopes that the amendment can be made in Parliament for implementation at the state level. The state government also proposes that the closed service of the local councils be changed to a common user service like the other departments in the civil service,’ it said.”

Clearly, Khir is ignorant although he had been Mentri Besar for six years that there is no need for any amendment of the law by Parliament.  This is because the Local Government Act 1976 had all along provided for the appointment of “professionals” as councilors as Section 10 of the Act provides for the appointment  of “persons ordinarily resident in the local authority area who in the opinion of the State Authority have wide experience in local government affairs or who have achieved distinction in any profession, commerce or industry, or are otherwise capable of representing the interests of their communities in the local authority area”.


For the past 30 years, the Local Government Act had been perverted by Barisan Nasional parties  turning local governments into garbage bins for political politicos to serve their personal interests instead of the interests of the local council ratepayers in the country – to the extent that the  Mentri Besar of the first “developed state” in the country is blissfully unaware of the provisions of the law after being head of state government for six years!


Khir fully qualifies Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s description of “half-past six” Ministers and Mentri-Mentri Besar in the country.


The lesson to be drawn from the Zakaria and Khir Toyo scandals is that appointed local government system in the past 40 years had failed miserably, being the seedbeds of abuses of power and corruption,  and that the time has come to restore the “third vote” of Malaysians to reinstate elected local government elections to restore responsibility, accountability, transparency, integrity and good local council governance.


*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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