Malaysia minister: New panel to focus on helping people, not usurping power

MALAYSIA - The implementation of the Resi­dent's Representative Committee (JPP) by next year will not take away the power of local authorities.

"Instead, it will be a useful bridge connecting the public with local authorities and federal agencies to look at issues affecting the people, especially city dwellers," said Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan.

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, when tabling the 2014 Budget, had introduced JPP as a new way to improve the Government's delivery service.

Rahman said Opposition MPs' concerns that JPP would subvert the powers of local authorities were unfounded.

He said that since 70% of the country's population reside in cities, issues concerning the people are more complex and demand for better services from local government and federal agencies is greater.

"With JPP in place, the public can forward their concerns to the committee through their representatives. Various departments will be there to act on their problems fast," he said in addressing points concerning his ministry that were raised during the 2014 Budget debate.

Rahman said the committee would be set up in 148 local councils nationwide with the exception of Kuala Lumpur City Hall, Putrajaya Corporation and Labuan Corporation, which comes under the purview of the Federal Territories Ministry.

"I would also like to assure everyone that the position of local councillors as stated under the Local Government Act will not be taken over by the committee.

"In fact, councillors will continue to work alongside community leaders to ensure issues concerning the people are cleared," he added.

Meanwhile, Visit Malaysia Year 2014 is set to be launched in style next January.

Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said the event, to be held in front of Sultan Abdul Samad building, would be the start of many tourism-related events and activities throughout the year to lure tourists to Malaysia.