Wednesday February 27, 2013
Focus on projects that benefit citizens
THE STAR SAYS . . .
THE High Court ruling last Thursday that the Sepang Municipal Council has no power to remove Automated Enforcement System (AES) cameras as they were located on federal roads has opened up a litany of legal issues that will slowly but surely work their way up to the highest court in the land.
But while the legal impasse may take some time to be resolved, the political ramifications have been immediate, which is not a surprise when every interested party is out to score points with the general election around the corner.
Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim's move to freeze all federal projects in the state in the light of the court decision clearly smacks of political one-upmanship.
He has since clarified that: “We are not against development projects, but we want to know clearly what is the power of the state according to the Constitution.”
Khalid has been Mentri Besar for close to five years and he would be more than familiar about what comes under federal and state jurisdictions, as clearly stated by the supreme law of the land, the Federal Constitution.
The fact that he has previously been a corporate figure and also part of the federal set-up, by virtue of his position in Permodalan Nasional Bhd, should also put him in good stead on how development projects are carried out.
But putting politics aside, it is clear that the interest of the people must come first. Projects, such as the LRT extension network which is ongoing, and also the MRT, while initiated by the federal Barisan Nasional government, will mostly benefit the residents of Selangor, even if it is run by the Pakatan government.
It is no wonder then that the financial analysts are sounding the alarm bells that such a “freeze” will result not only in higher costs, but that the delays will have a negative impact on the overall economy.
One investment bank in a short note voiced its disappointment over a possible delay in the extension of the LRT network, saying that a further pause in the project will lead to cost overruns and prolong traffic congestion that has become a burden for residents in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur.
There is also concern about projects that have yet to take off because most major highway projects, for example, will run through state land.
Potential delays to the construction of highways in Selangor can have a big economic impact as those projects are estimated to have a development cost of RM19bil.
That's a big sum of money and delays will mean loss of business and also job creation.
Politicians must understand that not everything must be political, more so when it involves ordinary citizens in critical areas like transport, education, health, and basic needs such as water and electricity.
While some may prefer that both the federal and state governments are from the same side to resolve such issues, we must acknowledge that in a maturing democracy, and more so in a nation that is a federation of different states, such a divide will be common.
The true test is how, despite the political divide, all parties will be focused on a common agenda for the public good.