Local council budgeting must look into expenses that benefit the people and not on wasteful projects which are not considered a priority
BY THE GREEN DUDE
As representatives of the various resident associations in Bukit Antarabangsa and UK Perdana, we had our first dialogue with YB Rodziah Ismail, the newly elected MP for Ampang, during her pre-election campaign. We presented our views on our main concerns to her to understand and champion them.
Top on the list during the dialogue was to understand her policy and commitment to tackling the environmental and sustainable development issues plaguing this community over the last three decades.
I pointed to her that the issues of haphazard development and the growing population density had yet to be seriously addressed for many years. Ampang and Hulu Kelang is a water catchment area.
The Selangor government has even designated it as part of the Hulu Langat- Gombak Geopark area. As such, it is time for the government through its political representative look into the issues seriously.
Clearly, the State, particularly the Local Council, has failed to give due consideration to this blatant contradiction in policy and implementation. I also asked about the status of Lot 850 and the Wellenesia development proposal at the foot of Bukit Antarabangsa and Jalan Wangsa 1 which until now does not have an Advertising Permit and Developer’s Licence (APLA).
Moratorium on developments
In her opening speech, Rodziah touched on her plans to ensure the area’s balanced and sustainable development. She had read in the press about The Ampang People’s Mandate submitted by the Ampang Jaya Rimba Collective Group, which listed the aspirations of the people of Ampang.
Her answers generally satisfied our expectations for her to commit to the aspirations outlined in the Mandate, and we look forward to her implementation plans.
She promised to consider a moratorium on developments that do not comply with the sustainable development goals. She wants to establish a green city action plan through a Green City Mayor Council, such as being practiced in developed cities.
This will make it a more structured community group that will involve the community’s active participation. Representatives of the community will be recruited into the various committees. Issues and ideas will be raised and shared for practical implementation by the local council such as the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ).
As a member of the Selangor Exco for three terms, she gave an example of how she obtained strata titles for 12,000 homeowners in Puchong and another 9,000 in Sepang. This was done through the active participation of the community and the political will of its elected political representative.
She also talked about “Responsive Budgeting’. This means the local council budgeting must consider expenses that benefit the people. It should not allow for expenditure on wasteful projects not considered a priority.
The practice of presenting the local council’s budget to the community was done only as a formality and whatever comments made will be noted but not necessarily acted upon. Like the Malay proverb “melepaskan batuk di tangga” or simply pouring salt into the ocean – useless and a waste of time.
The issue of slope management and mitigation will require a certain budget allocation to achieve immediate and long-term solutions.
We also have to look into the policy of road resurfacing. In many of the condominiums, resurfacing of roads within the condominiums are borne by the residents via their joint management board (JMB) or management committee (MC) sinking funds. Some form of financial assistance should be considered as they too are rate payers.
The people’s mandate
The Ampang Jaya Rimba Collective (AJRC) is a movement of residents of Ampang Jaya to raise and champion issues achieving sustainable development goals (SDG) in the area. After numerous engagements with the stakeholders, they finally devised the Ampang Jaya People’s Mandate.
It aims to get elected MPs to work for and with the people and the community to adopt the mandate and align it with their and their political party’s manifesto.
It contains four pillars namely:
1. Local Governance
The pillar on Local Governance refers to the need to bring back local elections so that suitable candidates from the community will be able to be elected as local councillors and not be appointed by political parties.
Currently, these appointed councillors wear three hats – that of their political party, the local council and the people. Obviously, the people’s interest comes last.
Among the governance issues are the strict adherence and implementation of the Town and Country Planning Act 1976, which will incorporate the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) during the application of Planning Permission for any development and infrastructures.
The Draft MPAJ Local Plan 2035, needs to be rejected in its current form and re-proposed in accordance with proper processes, guidelines and law.
Long-term sustainability impact
The environmental pillar focuses on protection and conservation, which includes no de-gazettement of forest reserves, the maintenance of forest and river buffer zones, land use and green space; and adherence to an environmentally sustainable population density ratio that maintains and imposes stricter existing land use limitations.
The declaration of the Gombak Hulu Langat Geopark should also be enhanced to achieve the UNESCO Urban Geopark status, which will be quite challenging given that it conflicts with current development trends that see a higher population density increase in the area.
It should be noted that this area is home to the Gombak Quartz Ridge which is the world’s longest quartz ridge and this should be preserved as a national heritage. The Green Dude has climbed that ridge before and it is an experience one cannot forget.
Other historical Geosites include the Klang Gates Dam, the nation’s first dam, the Old Ampang Impounding Reservoir, the country’s first natural reservoir, and the Pekan Ampang and Kuala Ampang which is a Tin Mining Heritage and Historical site.
The pillar on sustainable economic development is to lay the groundwork for greener and sustainable economic growth. This includes better management of transport infrastructure such as the East Klang Valley Expressway (EKVE) which is facing a number of legal and environmental issues such as flood mitigation problems, as well as the impending KL Northern Dispersal Expressway (KL NODE), which is still not clear to the community as to its plans and potential impact on the community.
The fourth and final pillar is on the Community. It involves the participation of stakeholders in the community through consultation and feedback on public transportation, amenities for the youth, the under-served, the aged and retirees, and the Orang Asal community.
It is hoped that the Ampang People’s Mandate will be top of the agenda of the newly elected Member of Parliament. It is a new way of serving the people which will leave a long-term sustainable impact on the lives of the community. – @Forest
THE GREEEN DUDE, being a decade long resident of Ampang, is optimistic that the newly elected MP for Ampang with her past and current experience as a state Exco member will be an example of an effective community representative for the nation in achieving sustainable development goals, and with the active participation of members of the community.