Recently, a media statement was issued by urban city planning expert Shuhana Shamsuddin saying that, apart from the wrath of Mother Nature, which was one of the reasons behind the recent flash floods in Kuala Lumpur, the design of the city failed to protect it from drowning.
This statement requires serious reflection on the part of Malaysians about the foundations of our local government operations around the country regarding their governing vision, philosophy, administrative competency and accountability.
The advocate for urban design said it is time the government seriously took concerted efforts to prevent city centres from future flash floods, rather than allowing the current haphazard development that does not take such disaster into account. “What is happening now is that there is no coordination between developers, architects and the local councils when it comes to development in the country.
“If you look at how the town planning is done now, they are all working in silos – there is no communication among these few quarters – so they end up endangering their surroundings without knowing it,” Shuhana told a daily in an interview.
Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh said low-income earners in Kuala Lumpur have been put at risk with a proposed housing development located on land originally marked as retention ponds.
The statements by the city planning expert and the Segambut MP do not merely reveal the administrative and ecological aspects of flooding, they also reveal the current underlying weakness of governance of local governments which serves a materialistic ideology, instead of building cities that are ecologically sustainable and humanly compassionate.
What is obvious is the principle foundational aspects of governance in local government needs to be revived, made accountable and given the mandate by local government elections.
Having local government elections would force local government politicians to compete and formulate a better vision for cities with appropriate designs and a structure of implementation and accountability that is clearly missing from current local government administration.
Therefore, the Association for Community and Dialogue urges political parties that are against local government elections to come to their senses and revive the local foundation of governance.
Unless there is an enlightened philosophy of governance besides administrative and structural reforms, we will end up a laughing stock in the world if we can’t even get the basics of governing our cities right.