The future of KL according to Zaid

By Stephanie Sta Maria, The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR: Two months into his new role as PKR Federal Territory chief and Zaid Ibrahim is already pushing hard for a dialogue session with the Minister of Federal Territories and Urban Well-being Raja Nong Chik Zainal Abidin. His invitation has been met with silence so far but Zaid is keeping his hopes up. An acceptance, he said, would put many of the issues raised by MPs in Kuala Lumpur on the fast track to a concrete resolution.

“The situation in KL is that although the opposition holds nine of the 11 constituencies there, the power and decision to improve facilities and resolve issues are not in our hands,” Zaid explained. “So I have written letters to the minister asking him for a dialogue to discuss all these issues.”

“The ruling government and the opposition can fight on issues, but there comes a time when we have to rise above our differences in order to serve the people. The opposition is limited to highlighting issues and putting forth suggestions to resolve them. Such feedback is crucial for the minister so I hope there is a change of attitude.”

In the same breath, however, Zaid also voiced his agreement with Cheras MP Tan Kok Wai that the ministry should be abolished to release Kuala Lumpur from beneath the thumbs of “political masters”.

He pointed out that on a structural level, KL Mayor Ahmad Fuad Ismail and Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) appear to have the authority to make decisions but in reality, this power belongs to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and Raja Nong Chik.

Zaid blamed most of the conflicting decisions concerning Kuala Lumpur on the lack of role clarification among the minister, the Cabinet and the mayor.

“Resolutions can’t take place overnight… much planning is needed,” he stated. “But if the details of the plans keep changing or if one person reverses another’s decision, then nothing moves. And this is what’s happening now because the party that is entitled to authority is being denied it.”

“The minster’s position is unnecessary because we already have a mayor in KL and we can have mayors in Langkawi and Labuan as well. It would also be good to have an elected mayor who would feel accountable and responsible towards those who voted for him. This is part of a long-term plan that will address the issues in KL.”

Closer to home

Zaid’s new plans are also primed to make a difference at the party level. He will focus his next monthly meeting on three or four main problematic areas and elect a key person to handle each area.

“Problems don’t start and end within a single constituency,” he said. “A traffic congestion in Segambut is the same as the one in Lembah Pantai and the rest of KL. So I want key people to be experts on certain issues instead of experts on their constituencies alone. Only then will we have a better view of the situation and talk sense when discussing it.”

Zaid’s personal concern is on fundamental issues like security and basic amenities. Or in his own words, “things that are doable”.

“If you want to make KL a more livable place, you have to start with the basics. The world’s most livable city can’t be filled with slums or deteriorating flats.”