Selangor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo doesn’t make any sense when he revealed that he had asked Datuk Zakaria Mat Deros to resign before Zakaria’s audience with the Sultan of Selangor. It is a PR exercise to improve his sagging image in this atrocious saga. His subsequent ultimatum to Zakaria to resign by 8 November 2006 only exposes his quandary for having allowed this scandal to prevail.
It is pathetic, even ridiculous, to ask Zakaria to vacate his seat in the Council when he is no longer a serving councillor. His term had expired and he had not been sworn in for another term. In such a situation how does Zakaria resign? It is asking him to do the impossible. In the event that Zakaria is unable to resign, can you castigate him for being adamant and refusing to resign?
This impasse is easily resolved by not re-appointing Zakaria for a fresh term. In this way, he is effectively dropped and removed from the Council. In this way, we can effectively put a stop to this scandalous saga of Zakaria serving as a Councillor once again, thus preventing this affair from dragging on as if the State Government is helpless in tackling this issue.
Dr Khir has clarified the appointments of councillors, stating that candidates are vetted by the police and the Anti Corruption Agency to ensure that those appointed are of high integrity. Is he seriously stating that Zakaria had received the thumbs up as a man of integrity deserving to be re-appointed as Councillor? If he dares, let him answer this question!
So many misdeeds have been highlighted in this shocking episode.
But is it fair that only Zakaria be blamed for a host of wrongdoings such as:
- building a mansion without approved plans
- failure to pay his assessment for 12 years, and
- operating a satay business without licence in premises erected without permission and approved plans?
Shouldn’t all those who are in charge of collecting assessments and ensuring that buildings are erected after all formalities have been observed be charged as well for dereliction of duty? Or were they in collusion with Zakaria?
Shouldn’t those vetting personnel from the police and the Anti-Corruption Agency who cleared him as a man of integrity be held accountable for not detecting the many faults and failures of Zakaria? Or are they guilty of covering up what was so obvious?
And shouldn’t Dr Khir himself be held accountable for the alienation of state land to Zakariah’s wife, Ziza Ngah, at almost 10 per cent of the actual cost of the land? Can he justify to the people why this land was alienated to Zakaria’s wife? And can he also give the rationale for granting almost a 90 per cent discount on the cost of the land? This could not have been possible without his knowledge and consent.
We are made to understand that there are also other councillors who had benefited from such generosity from the state government. We need to know who they are and what was alienated and at what cost to them. When people in positions of power and authority misuse their position to parcel out land to their cronies for a song, can they be depended on to faithfully and honestly serve the needs of the deserving and live up to their oath of office?
While Zakaria should be justifiably punished for his misdeeds, shouldn’t the Menteri Besar himself be subjected to a similar fate? Shouldn’t we also expect him to resign from office for his own transgressions?
The various scandal-tainted councils cry out for local government elections to be brought back. In this way, local councillors will be beholden to the people who elect them rather than to powerbrokers who appoint them. In this elected system, recalcitrant councillors can be thrown out without any rigmarole. And this system will also prevent more than one member from the same family serving as councillors.
Aliran once again calls for the introduction of elected local councils in keeping with the spirit of democracy that we cherish.
1 November 2006