My Selangor Budget 2017 Wishlist
State Assemblyman for Bukit Gasing
As our Selangor Government prepares for the upcoming Budget 2017, I would like to take this opportunity to propose 8 items, that I hope could be part of the coming budget.
- Speed up the pipe replacement program launched this year
I wholeheartedly welcome the pipe replacement program launched by our MB this year. As of the beginning of this year, 84 pipe burst hotspots have been identified by Syabas. 12 of these hotspots are undergoing pipe replacement now, and the balance 72 are scheduled to be done over the next 3 years.
Selangor suffers from a very high pipe burst incident rate, a whopping 5000-6000 cases a year. Asbestos-Cement (AC) pipes are only 6000km out of the 28000km of pipes in Selangor, but they account for approximately half of all burst pipes. Every burst pipe case will cause water disruption and hardship, sometimes for a smaller group and other times for a larger group of residents, depending on the size of the pipe affected.
I would like to suggest we increase our budget to speed up the pipe replacement program. Instead of doing 11 hotspots in 2017, I would like to propose that Selangor complete the 72 identified hotspots in 2017. Pipe replacement, by rule of thumb, cost RM900,000 to RM1,000,000, and this would make the replacement of the 72 hotspots cost approximately RM350-400mil.
This would not only require additional cash from the government’s reserves, but will also require Air Selangor to quickly increase its capacity to carry out that many projects in a year. I also propose that this increase in capacity be planned to reach target of RM500mil a year (500km/year) worth of pipe replacement works, as we have a huge back log to catch up.
I trust that this use of our hard earned reserves would be dearly appreciated by residents, especially in areas most affected by burst pipes and water disruptions.
- Encourage rain water harvesting
Selangor residents consume a rather high amount of water daily, as compared with international norms. Selangor citizens consume approximately 250 litres per person per day, which is much higher compared to our neighbouring countries such as Thailand with only about 160 to 170 litres per day per person, Singapore (130-150 litres per day per person) and Indonesia (140-160 litres per day per person).
Selangor has launched a “save water” campaign recently, but more needs to be done to create awareness of how we can reduce our consumption of treated water. One of the ways is to help Selangor houses to use less water is to get houses to install rain water harvesting systems.
I propose a decent, maybe 50% subsidy on installation cost for the first 10000 homes to subscribe to this. This can be focused on districts that are most prone to water shortages. A smaller subsidy can be offered to the next 100,000 homes. This is to encourage widespread adoption.
In addition to saving water, if rain water harvesting is widely installed, it can contribute towards reducing the load on our drainage systems during heavy downpours.
- RM150mil to improve public transport usage
I applaud the ambition of our MB is calling for a 60% public transport usage target in Selangor. No Metropolis the size of the Klang Valley anywhere is the world has done well without excellent public transport.
While some aspects of providing public transport are under the purview of the Federal government, I urge the state to consider investing a substantial sum, approximately RM150mil to develop supporting infrastructure to enable us to use public transport more effectively.
Areas that we can and should invest in are like developing
- Park and Ride facilities, especially for all MRT, LRT and KTM stations in the suburbs. This would enable those living further away from the stations to easily ride the train into the city.
- Pedestrian Connectivity – all properties within a 500m distance from any station should have a proper pedestrian walkway, to encourage walking to and from the station.
- Good Bus Stops – Bus stops that provide shelter, and information of the bus routes plying the area. To do this properly, we would need the cooperation of SPAD.
- All Local Councils in the Klang Valley should emulate MBPJ in drawing up a public transport masterplan, a plan that will map out feeder bus routes to connect all our townships to MRT, LRT or KTM stations. This would be an enabler for people to have greater access to public transport.
- SMART Selangor
In line with the new theme for Selangor – SMART Selangor, I would like to suggest that in 2017, the Selangor State Government makes all services and applications that are now done over the counter available over the internet and smart phone applications.
This covers applications and services in various departments and local councils. While we already have some of the major services online, it is timely that we strive to make ALL services online, to make life easier for our residents. This does not mean abolishing the counter services, those should remain to serve residents who prefer face to face transactions.
- Senior Citizen Activity Center
We have an aging society in Selangor, particularly in Petaling Jaya. For those who are retired, I propose we create a few activity centers, that would operate in the day time to meet the needs of seniors in our society.
It would be a sort of club house, where there would be a reading some, karaoke, game room, a senior friendly gym, meeting rooms, etc. I propose a few rounds of public consultation to work out the finer details, should the Selangor Government take this up.
- RM5mil for each constituency for medium size projects
I share the similar views with our MB, that Selangor should continue to focus on development. For 2016, Selangor hit a record for appropriating 50% of its budget for development purposes, which is a rather high ratio compared to other states and our Federal Government.
For 2017, I envisage that we would be remaining on this same part. I would like to propose that part of the development budget be determined locally, to address the specific needs of local communities in Selangor.
Selangor is a vast state, with nearly 6 million residents living in many townships. Each township would have its specific needs, such as upgrading its market, building a community hall, building or upgrading sports facilities. I would like to propose RM5million per constituency
It would be an added bonus if we could implement a voting system to allow residents within a community to choose which project they would like. I understand there may be some constraints in implementing this in the short term, but it should be our aim to work towards participatory budgeting.
- Government should take over the maintenance of low cost and low medium cost flats in Selangor.
In Malaysia, each strata property is managed by either a Joint Management Body (JMB) or Management Corporation (MC). These bodies are elected throught AGMs by all parcel owners.
While higher end condominiums and apartments typically work well under this structure, there are many low cost and low medium cost flats in Selangor that do not have the required JMB or MC. This is not surprising as many of the owners’ shy away from attending AGMs that form these bodies.
This has caused many low cost and low medium cost flats to be poorly maintained, leading to poor living conditions for our residents. I would like to propose, with the intention of uplifting the building quality of these flats, a Selangor government subsidiary to be appointed to run these apartments, even at a loss.
There is no doubt that for the interim take over period, monthly maintenance fees may not be sufficient to cover the cost of maintaining the flats. Thus, the government should subsidize part of the running cost as our social obligation.
This propose moved will not be unique. In Singapore, the HDB flats are maintained by town councils. This has proven to be effective in ensuring that upkeep work is not reliant on monthly dues, but on government budget, specification and oversight. Maintenance fees must still be collected, and I propose capping the fees at RM45/month for low cost flats and RM65/month for low medium cost flats. This figures are only a preliminary suggestion, and there should be further deliberation and discussion.
We should also work towards minimizing losses in this operations. 2 suggestions that I have are to ensure >80% dues paid by enforcement. There are enough provisions in law to enable government to prosecute those refusing to pay their monthly dues. Special provisions thru the Welfare Department should be available for residents who truly cannot afford to pay.
The 2nd suggestion is to step up enforcement in these flats. Enforcement officers, after sufficient publicity, must be making their rounds to catch vandals. Vandalism is not only wrong and disruptive, it is costly to the body maintaining the flats, and must be eradicated.
- Update all Local Plans
Selangor will be releasing the Selangor Structure Plan 2035 soon. This is the overall masterplan document for town planning in Selangor. In the draft, there were many standards prescribed, which I welcome. Standards such a green space provision, social amenities, utilities and so on should not only be applicable for new townships, but also for existing mature townships.
Towards this objective, and to realize the full value of the Selangor Structure Plan 2035, I would like to request that we allocate sufficient funding in our 2017 budget, to enable all the local plans (detailed masterplans at the local council level) to be updated to cater to the prescribed standards as best as possible.
Local plans should be updated to ensure social amenities such as schools, fire stations, funeral parlours, green spaces are sufficient for the projected population of each township. As highlighted in the draft structure plan, many of our townships suffer a lack of these amenities, either due to previous town planning shortcomings, or an increase in standards in recent years.
Updating all the local plans in Selangor is the very minimum to ensure the work of producing the State Structure Plan was not in vain, and to work towards improving the quality of life in our townships.