Of local councils, legislation, and almost anything under the sun

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The syndrome of closing one eye to things illegal or improper, it appears, did not stop in Jasin, Melaka. Such a callous and irresponsible attitude seems to be contagious and is affecting other places in the country as well. And the free paper, theSun, should know this very well as it has been reporting and carrying commentaries that questioned certain actions or inaction of a number of local councils, particularly in Selangor, a state that claims to have reached to 'developed' status.

theSun today (March 15) front-paged a story of the Subang Jaya Municipal Council which 'has decided to legalise cabins placed illegally in open spaces by issuing them temporary permits which are valid till the end of the year'. This is an important story as it once again reminds us all of the un-accountability of local councils, which are not elected by, and are therefore unanswerable to, the people. It is also a news item that is of public significance because it reveals an authority that pooh-poohs its very own rules and regulations, which are supposed to ensure the safety, comfort and peace of  local residents.

 
Related to this issue of illegality and accountability is the reported decision of the Selangor state government to legalise illegal factories operating in the state purportedly to avoid the possibility of the factories 'moving overseas'. This issue was the subject of theSun's editorial, and rightly so, on 13 March 2007 (p 26), titled, 'Wrong road to economic growth'. This is undoubtedly a serious issue as it reflects a state government that is willing to close one eye to such illegal activities, and in the process, throw standards and procedures — indicators of a developed society — out of the window. (At the same time, the local authorities have displayed a merciless, heartless attitude towards urban pioneers by evicting many of them from their homes, which are swiftly demolished).
 
It goes without saying that the action of the state government would only invite the dumping of factories into Selangor – factories that are, among other things, polluting, lax in safety procedures, and prone  to exploit workers. Is 'development' at all costs worth it?
 
We say kudos to theSun for having highlighted such important issues.
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