By Frank Auger

This is precisely why I and many others take offense at the recent actions of the appointed Mayor of Kuala Lumpur, who was reported to have implied that the “Taman Rimba Kiara ruling opens floodgates to challenges by every Tom, Dick and Harry”.

Well the appointed Mayor should understand that without being able to democratically elect a Mayor of their choice, the Rakyat has few options to ensure their rights to a decent, well-planned and sustainable city are upheld.

The Rakyat, whether they be Ali, Muthu or Ah Chong, have the right to object to developments that will affect them in any way. The Rakyat have the right to be granted full access to Traffic, Social and Environmental Impact Assessments carried out and submitted when a development is being proposed and its Development Order (DO) is being considered by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL).

This is their right. There are no two ways about it.

How can the Mayor imply that the Rakyat should be denied meaningful participation in any objection against any development project? This is certainly not in the best interest of the Rakyat, who more often than not are sent in circles, at their own expense, when objecting against developments that will affect them.

Noise, increased traffic, the mutilation of their surroundings and the loss of green spaces affect all of Kuala Lumpur’s Rakyat. No one is exempt and those who employ outriders are very aware of this fact. They, including the Federal Territories Minister, his deputy and the Mayor do not want to be stuck in traffic like the ordinary Rakyat but instead of implementing policies that will alleviate the situation, they take care of themselves.

This “Rakyat be damned” attitude has not gone down well but so far all we have seen is Zuraida Kamarudin speak up in favor of local government elections, only to be shot down by her Pakatan Harapan colleagues and later her Perikatan Nasional colleagues.

We are not here to waste time debating politics, but without having a Mayor who is incentivised by a democratic mandate from the Rakyat, how are their interests going to be protected?

What we see instead is ministers only interested in more land garbs, more developments, more highways and Mayors who are subservient to such ministers. An elected Mayor, one who is not incentivised by being appointed to organisations like Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan will be the strongest voice and defense of the Rakyat against those seeking to undermine their quality of life.

This practise of appointing any Tom, Dick and Harry as Mayor must come to an end and the nation which is yearning for greater say in matters that concern them will be watching closely. Appointed Mayors only answer to the ones who appoint them.

Of course it is not only the fault of the government of the day. What are the 11 members of parliament doing to democratise the city’s Mayoral office? Sleeping on the job perhaps only to be seen during the coming elections.

Mayors with a conflict of interest will not side with the Rakyat and that is obvious when the Rakyat’s money is used against them. As long as this is not done, as long as local government elections are not implemented, we should stop pretending that Kuala Lumpur will ever be a sustainable, liveabl;e and high quality city.

All it will be is a concrete jungle where its inhabitants are bulldozed over every time someone wants to turn a quick profit and the Mayor, instead of answering to the Rakyat, will remain a loyal servant of the one holding the other end of his leash.