by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Friday, June 24, 1994:
Threat by Dr. Ting Chew Peh to disqualify defaulting local authorities in Operation Clogged Drains from applying for allocation from the RM50 million grant is stupid and counter-productive as it only means more clogged drains
Despite full Cabinet backing, the Housing and Local Government Minister, Dr. Ting Chew Peh has failed abysmally in ‘Operation Clogged Drains’.
Last November, the Prime Minister and the Cabinet directed the launching of ‘Operation Clogged Drains’ after identifying clogged drains as one of the major sources of flash floods in many parts of the major towns in the country and to keep the drains clean for health reasons.
However, for over three months, Dr. Ting Chew Peh was unable to make any headway in ‘Operation Clogged Drains’ and he had to go back to the Cabinet on February 16, 1994 for further Cabinet endorsement to issue a deadline to all the 143 local authorities in the country to submit detailed reports to his Ministry by end of March on the progress of ‘Operation Clogged Drains’ launched last November.
All the local authorities were required to submit “before and after” pictures of drains that had been “unclogged and cleaned up” as well as their drain-cleaning schedules.
On 9th March, 1994, Dr. Ting announced that from April onwards, he and his Deputy Minister would be conducting surprise checks nationwide to identify clogged drains.
Yesterday, Dr. Ting made the shocking announcement that 75 per cent of the 143 local authorities in the country had not complied with the Cabinet directive of February 16 to submit “before and after” photographs, although the Cabinet deadline had already been exceeded by about three months!
There is riot only the problem of ‘clogged drains’ but also the problem of ‘clogged Ministry of Housing and Local Government
What is even more mystifying is that Dr. Ting had not known of such a high percentage of default by the local authorities earlier.
On June 13, he announced in Kangar that only 50 per cent of the local authorities had not complied with the Cabinet directive when it should be 75 per cent.
How can the Minister for Housing and Local Government make such a big blunder as when he spoke in Kangar on June 13, two and a half months have expired since the Cabinet deadline.
Dr. Ting Chew Peh cannot be very serious about the ‘Operation Clogged Drains’ when he could make such a big blunder two and a half months after the Cabinet deadline!
It would appear that apart from the problem of ‘clogged drains’, the country has also the problem of a ‘clogged Ministry of Housing and Local Government’
On 19th April, Dr. Ting announced that about 70 per cent of the 143 local authorities had submitted their drain cleaning schedules to his Ministry.
Yesterday-after more than two months later – Dr. Ting said there are still fifty local authorities which had not submitted their schedules.
This is another example of a bungling Minister for Housing and Local Government. If fifty local authorities have been submitted their drain cleaning schedules as of yesterday, this means that only 65 per cent of the local authorities had submitted their schedules and not 70 per cent as announced by Dr. Ting on 19th April. Furthermore, is Dr. Ting suggesting that from April 19 till June 23, there had not been a single local authority which had submitted their cleaning schedules?
Yesterday, Dr. Ting threatened the 75 per cent of the 143 local authorities that if they do not comply within two weeks, they would not only be disqualified from applying, for allocation from the RM50 million grant, but the Ministry will also release their names to the press.
The threat by Dr. Ting to disqualify defaulting local authorities in Operation Clogged Drains from applying for allocation from the RM50 million grant is particularly stupid and counter-productive as it only means more clogged drains!
The other threat to publish the names of the defaulting local authorities in the press is most unimaginative and unlikely to have any effect – as why should the 108 defaulting local authorities feel embarrassed at being listed when they represent 75 per cent of the 143 local authorities?
I am sure that if Dr. Ting Chew Peh cares to ask, he can get more imaginative and effective ideas to make Operation Clogged Drains a success. I am prepared to offer him several ideas and suggestions myself.
Surely, Dr. Ting Chew Peh is not waiting for the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed to set up a Special Cabinet Committee headed by Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, with Anwar Ibrahim going up and down the country to look at clogged drains every day before Operation Clogged Drain can get unclogged!
What is most deplorable is that Dr. Ting is now trying to penalise the ratepayers for his failure to get the local authorities to make a success of Operation Clogged Drains.
His proposal recently that building owners should be made responsible for the cleanliness of the drains outside their doorsteps is not only a confession of his failure in Operation Clogged Drains, but an attempt to make the ratepayers pay for his failure.
Dr. Ting should not impose further burdens on the ratepayers. If he cannot make a success of Operation Clogged Drains, then he should resign as Minister for Housing and Local Government and let another effective and dynamic Minister clean up the drains in the country.