Speech by Penang Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and Assemblyman for Padang Kota, Lim Kit Siang, in the Penang State Assembly on Thursday, 9th June 1994 on the DAP motion to condemn harsh MPSP policies against hawkers, shopkeepers, residents and small and medium-scale industries
Penang State Government should review the excessively high salary and allowances of MPPP and MPSP Presidents which is about RM10,000 a month and bring them into line with those of other Municipal Presidents
In January this year, the Penang State Local Government Committee Chairman, Dr. Goh Cheng Teik, launched a Client Charter for the Seberang Prai Municipal Council (MPSP), declaring that it was the first local authority in the country to have a Client Charter to set higher public service standards for the MPSP.
If the MPSP had taken its Client Charter seriously in the past six months, then the complaints, problems and grievances of the people and ratepayers against the Seberang Prai Municipal Council as elaborated by the mover of this motion, DAP Assemblyman for Bagan Jermal, Phee Boon Poh and the seconder of the motion, DAP Assemblyman for Mak Mandin, Lim Hock Seng, should not have occurred at all, and there would be no need for this motion to be moved in the State Assembly.
The first action of the MPSP Client Charter is not to provide better services to the MPSP ratepayers but to be the MPPP President’s Charter.
Dr. Goh had informed State Assembly at this meeting that the State Government has decided to put the MPSP on par with the MPPP, and because the MPPP President, Datuk Tan Gim Hwa is drawing RM6,000 salary and RM3,800 allowances a month and given a Mercedes 230, the MPSP President is also now paid RM6,000 salary and RM3,800 allowances a month and also given a Mercedes 230.
I have no objection to the State Government putting the MPSP and the MPPP on a similar level, but ratepayers are entitled to question the decision to raise the pay of the MPSP President to RM9,800 a month and given a Mercedes 230.
The pay of close to RM10,000 and perks for Tan Gim Hwa as MPPP President is excessively high as compared to those of other Municipal Presidents.
For instance, the Johore Bahru Municipal Council President draws a salary of RM4,276 and allowance of RM1,125 or a total of RM5,401 a month and he is given a Proton car.
The Petaling Jaya Municipal President gets a monthly salary of RM4,276 and allowance of RM625, totalling RM4,901.
The Kota Bahru Municipal President gets a monthly salary of RM3,711 and allowance of RM1,200, totalling RM4,911.
The Taiping Municipal President gets a monthly salary of RM3,634 and allowance of RM1,000, totalling RM4,634.
Tan Gim Hwa as MPPP President – and now the MPSP President – draws a total of RM9,800 a month which is excessively high as compared to other Municipal Presidents in the country.
When the State Government puts MPSP and the MPPP on a similar level, the pay of the MPSP President should not have been hiked to close to RM10,000 a month. What the state government should have done is to bring down the MPPP President’s pay to a level more comparable to that of the other Municipal Presidents.
Otherwise, what we see is the Parkinson’s Law in operation, where the bureaucracy creates new and more jobs ‘and positions not because of need but to build a bureaucratic empire. In this case, the hiking of the pay of the MPSP President to the level of the MPPP President is not the creation of bureaucracy, but the creation of a political bureaucracy – as the appointment of Tan Gim Hwa and his excessive pay- and perks is the political decision of the Chief Minister, Dr.Koh Tsu Koon.
In fact, the MPPP President is not entitled to Mercedes 230. The Treasury in its circular 6/92 has made it very clear that Municipal Presidents are only entitled to Mercedes 200 – but the Penang State Government has flouted this Treasury instruction by giving MPPP and MPSP Presidents Mercedes 230.
I call on the State Government to review the excessively high pay of the MPPP and MPSP Presidents which is about RM10,000 a month, more than twice of most Municipal Presidents in the country, and bring them into line with other Presidents of comparable municipal councils.
DAP calls on the State Government to request the Federal Government to allow Penang State to hold Municipal Council elections to give effect to the slogan, ‘Penang Leads’
The root cause of the numerous complaints, problems and. grievances of the ratepayers against MPSP is because the MPSP is not an elected Council and the nominated Councillors are not responsible directly to the ratepayers.
The Municipal Councillors are nominated not because they are distinguished members of the society or have excelled in their respective professions, but solely because they are party hacks in Gerakan, MCA and UMNO.
It is time that Municipal Council elections be restored so that the ratepayers can directly decide how the local government should be run.
The holding of local government elections had been a election platform of the Gerakan. Has this election promise of Gerakan been abandoned?
I do not know want the Gerakan State Government to answer that its hands are tied because the Federal Government is against the holding of local government elections.
As the Chief Minister, Dr. Koh Tsu Koon is fond of saying ‘Penang Leads’, then let the Penang State Government formally request the Federal Government to allow Penang State to held local government elections.
If the other states are not ready for local government elections, Penang should be allowed to hold local government elections and be a test-case for other states. If the restoration of Penang Municipal elections is successful, then other states can follow suit to hold local government elections.
State Government should consider dividing MPSP into three or more local government authorities to make them more competent, efficient and manageable to meet the needs of the ratepayers
Another reason for the multitude of complaints, problems and grievances of the MPSP ratepayers is because the MPSP is too big to be efficient and competent.
The MPSP is the biggest local government authority in the country, and this is nothing to be proud about. It is time that the State Government, consider dividing the MPSP into three or more Municipal Councils to make the local government more efficient, competent, and manageable to meet the needs and resolve the problems of the ratepayers in Seberang Prai.