LETTER | One serious, widespread problem throughout Malaysia is the lack of funding for the maintenance and improvement of basic services at the state as well as local government levels.
This leads to a lack of sufficient wages, workers as well as tools to carry out such maintenance work and conduct routine checks.
As a result, there are serious, consistent problems in everyday basic services that remain unaddressed, posing safety risks towards the people.
Such problems include non-functioning street lights, faulty electrical systems, poor upkeep of buildings and public property, lack of routine road sweeping as well as drain cleaning, lack of clearing and monitoring of illegal garbage dumpsites and so on.
Some of these issues need to be resolved as soon as possible because they threaten the safety and health of the public.
Unfortunately, the local authorities only take action after a very long time or after receiving repeated complaints from the public.
This gives a negative view of government services in general, especially if accidents occur due to unresolved, serious problems with these basic services. This ultimately affects voters’ support for the government.
There are a few steps the government needs to take at all levels to be able to effectively allocate sufficient funds towards the consistent maintenance and improvement of basic services throughout the country, such as the following.
The government must act decisively and strictly in eradicating corrupt practices, such as patronage, rent-seeking, cronyism, nepotism and others that have plagued our country for too long and have cost the government a huge amount of funds.
One important measure that must be taken is to establish a stringent institutional check and balance system with independent oversight institutions in each state, towards the awarding of contracts by the local governments to companies.
These include private companies as well as government-linked companies (GLC) and their subsidiaries.
For each state, the auditing process as part of this check and balance system must be conducted by a committee that is independent of the menteri besar/chief minister – as well as the executive branch of the state government.
This is to ensure that the awarding of contracts to companies to carry out basic services isn’t done in order for the local politicians and bureaucrats to reap profits through corrupt practices.
It’s also to ensure that the basic services carried out by those particular companies are of good quality, so that ratepayers get good value for their money.
Additionally, this check and balance system must also be applied towards the alienation of land resources by the state governments to companies for various projects.
This is crucial to not only deter any form of corruption but to also ensure that the money gained from such transactions goes into the public coffers, instead of the pockets of bureaucrats and politicians as kickbacks.
With this measure, the local and state governments will therefore have more funds that can be allocated towards maintaining and improving basic services.
Prioritise funds for maintaining, improving basic services
In general, government funds should be prioritised more towards consistent maintenance and improvement of basic services throughout the country, instead of towards other projects, such as those that are commercial and tourism-related.
While I understand that tourism is a main revenue source for our country, nevertheless, it should not take precedence in terms of government funding over the quality of our basic services upon which the people’s safety and wellbeing depend.
With these measures, all the state, as well as local governments throughout the country, will be able to allocate more funds towards hiring more workers, paying adequate levels of wages, and acquiring a sufficient amount of necessary tools and equipment.
This will then enable these state and local governments to effectively carry out maintenance, upkeep, as well as routine checks towards basic services in their respective areas.
Therefore, as a concerned and responsible government, the government must take measures such as the above to ensure that sufficient funds are allocated and prioritised towards consistent maintenance and improvement of basic services throughout the country.
Such measures will definitely help in ensuring the safety and well-being of the people.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.