Selangor needs to get ready for tough state elections
SELANGOR unveiled its budget for 2023 last month. With politics in a flux right now, the Selangor elections will be the toughest fight of the six states going to the polls this year.
Urban poverty, the rise in the cost of living, unemployment, local government elections, environmental issues, infrastructural development, food security and municipal problems will be some of the main electoral issues.
Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari had stated that emphasis will be given to mitigating the expected recession this year.
As such, priority should be given to people’s welfare programmes and assistance for SMEs.
Selangor has a high urban population dependent on vulnerable industries.
The cost of living due to the high prices of food is already making life difficult for Selangor folk, with cumulative demand pushing up the price of essentials like food.
Selangor needs to allocate a large area in every district for agriculture. Presently, Selangor is too dependent on agricultural produce from Cameron Highlands and overseas.
Most of the lowland fruit and vegetables can be farmed in Selangor but the state is reluctant to allocate land for agriculture.
Selangor still has a lot of ex-farmers now living in urban areas, who can take up agriculture easily if land is available. High tech farming should be prioritised and the younger generation should be encouraged to use this.
The Selangor Agricultural Development Corporation (SADC) simply does not have the motivation or dynamism to spearhead agricultural development, given the budget provided for it.
For example, the Selangor Fruit Valley near Bandar Bestari is a mockery of fruit farming. A large area has yet to be cultivated after 20 years due to all kinds of restrictions, quotas and poor management.
Harvests are meagre, farmers cannot hire staff and the SADC does not help.
Meanwhile, poor set-up and infrastructure means few plots have been rented. The SADC needs to be more committed, not just another sleepy government department.
Selangor has the largest SME hubs in the country. Poor infrastructure is a major problem for their improvement and growth.
The Selangor government has to provide a reasonable budget to fill potholed roads, and repair stagnant and broken drains.
There is a great need to improve infrastructure now that flooding has become more prevalent. A lot of roads in Selangor are in poor condition due to lack of regular resurfacing.
Proper drains and retention ponds need to be built to avert flooding. Degradation of the environment results in pollution, loss of forest cover, uprooting the Orang Asli way of life, threatening of water catchment areas, and flooding.
Spending on infrastructure and other needs will also revitalise the Selangor economy.
More opportunities for the B40 to start small/micro businesses should be provided by the local authorities. A simple loan scheme should be made available.
Priority should go to hygiene as Selangor is a developed, first-world state.
Just look at the public places, industrial and commercial areas as well as residential housing estates. Many of the floods can be traced to clogged drains.
Selangor can be regarded as the dirtiest state in the country as municipal services provided by the local authorities leave a lot to be desired.
The local authorities should not be allowed to replace KDEB. It results in shoddy work because the contractors are hardly supervised.
It will be better for KDEB to undertake all the municipal sanitary work as the company is more responsible and responsive to complaints. It also has the ability to fulfil the bumiputera contractor quota.
Recycling needs to be prioritised because Selangor is more urbanised and industrialised. You can see waste and pollution everywhere, especially plastic products, paper, glass, Styrofoam, packaging and so on.
Selangor also uses the highest number of drinking water bottles. You can find millions of plastic and glass bottles in the drains, rivers and also strewn in public places.
This is due to the lack of waste separation, and also the pittance paid for plastics and other recycled products.
If recycling was carried out properly, at least 50% of the waste can be retrieved. The Selangor government needs to help recycling firms by looking into their needs like land, funding, incentives, licences, permits, storage facilities and tax emptions.
They also need help investing in technology to recycle a wider array of waste products.
More money needs to be given for Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists and Sikhs for their houses of worship and religious programmes.
Meanwhile, their concerns about cemeteries and depleting burial sites need to be addressed.
Selangor is the most multiracial and multireligious state in the country and funding befitting the demographics needs to be provided.
State-run open houses for festivals need to be on a grander scale to bring more people together.
Playgrounds, outdoor gyms, landscaping and sports facilities in urban residential areas need to be improved.
Funding for residents’ and senior citizens’ associations should be increased to ensure that they are not dependent on handouts from politicians.
A people-orientated Budget will give Selangor a head-start in facing the state elections.
The population must be nurtured and made to feel included. There are only a few months left, and the administration and the politicians need to buck up. They cannot give excuses anymore as they have been in charge since 2008. – January 23, 2023.
* V. Thomas reads The Malaysian Insight.
* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight. Article may be edited for brevity and clarity.