by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Penang on Monday, 27th June 1994:
One effective way to get local authorities to make a success of Operation Clogged Drains is to suspend the allowances of the appointed Municipal or District Councillors until they have complied with Cabinet directive to clean up the drains
Last Thursday, the Minister for Housing and Local Government Dr. Ting Chew Pen made the shocking announcement that after more than seven months since the Cabinet issued the directive to all local authorities to launch ‘Operation Clogged Drains’, 75-per cent of the 143 local authorities in the country had not complied with the Cabinet directive.
The Cabinet directed the local authorities to launch 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 Pen was unable to make any headway in ‘Operation Clogged Drains’ and he had to go back to the Cabinet on February 16, 1994 to ask the Cabinet to issue a deadline to all the 143 local authorities in the country to submit detailed reports to the Local Government Ministry by end of March on the progress of ‘Operation Clogged Drains’.
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.
Threat by Dr. Ting Chew Pen to disqualify defaulting local authorities in Operation Clogged Drains from applying for allocation from the RM50 million grant is short-sighted and counter-productive as it only means more clogged drains
It is now three months since the March 31 deadline set by the Cabinet, and it is most shocking that 75 per cent of the local authorities have not submitted ‘before and after’ photographs as required by the Cabinet.
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, for instance, he announced in Kangar that only 50 per cent of the local authorities had not complied with the Cabinet directive when it is actually 75 per cent.
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’
Last Thursday, 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 short-sighted 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 publicly listed when they represent the overwhelming majority of the 143 local authorities?
One effective way to get the local authorities to make a success of the Operation Clogged Drains is to suspend the allowances of the appointed Municipal or District Councillors until they have complied with the Cabinet directive to clean up the drains in their local authority areas.
Dr. Ting should not penalise the ratepayers because of his failure to get the local authorities to clean up the drains and make a success of Operation Clogged Drains.
The recent proposal by Dr. Ting that house owners or occupiers would be made responsible for cleaning the drains outside their doorsteps is most ridiculous and unacceptable – as clogged drains cannot be unclogged by individual house-owners or occupiers keeping the drain outside their doorsteps clean when the drainage system in the whole area is clogged.
Dr. Ting should abandone all ideas of transferring the responsibility of cleaning the drains unclogged from the local authorities to the individual ratepayers.
DAP gives advance notice to Dr. Ting that the DAP will strongly oppose his proposal to introduce legislation to make house-owners or occupiers responsible for the cleanliness of the drain outside their doorsteps.