THE Federal Territories (FT), which comprises Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan, will be celebrating its 35th anniversary on 1 Feb. For Datuk Seri Zulhasnan Rafique, 14 Feb will mark his third year as Federal Territories Minister.
He has strived to give FT a new identity and image by introducing changes with the vision of making it a developed and prosperous city, in line with the lyrics of its anthem.
In conjunction with the FT Day, Zulhasnan spoke to Bernama on his achievements and aspiration.
Bernama: How has the FT Ministry progressed and what has it achieved in the past one year?
Zulhasnan: When I was appointed as its minister in 2006, the first step I did was to make the ministry the people’s ministry by encouraging the participation of all quarters. I also launched a rebranding exercise by giving it a new identity.
Although the role of the ministry is to promulgate policies and tackle issues that arise, I decided to hear the views of all quarters before making any improvement. I introduced the “retreat” approach in 2006. I do not believe in making new policies at my whims and fancy. We have to listen to the views, grouses, comments and critics from all quarters before making new policies.
We had conducted 15 retreat programmes. [These include] retreats on petty traders’ development, the people’s housing scheme (PPR), sports development, the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) empowerment and making the ministry the people’s ministry.
What does FT’s new identity mean?
The FT flag (wikipedia commons)Previously, Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan had their own flags and anthems. I thought that this does not reflect a strong sense of belonging to the FT. So we introduced the new FT flag and song, Maju dan Sejahtera on Aug 20, 2006.
With the new flag and anthem, we projected an image and identity to bolster the FT spirit among the Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan residents. Without identity, there is no meaning … Now we have the spirit of being FT residents.
What are FT challenges? How about the squatter problems?
FT has 13 parliamentary constituencies including Putrajaya and Labuan. Every constituency has its own problems and phenomena.
Kuala Lumpur has squatter areas. We have built PPR houses to relocate the squatters. In June 2007, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdulllah Ahmad Badawi announced the sale of 15,007 PPR housing units built by the National Economic Action Council at RM35,000 each. FT became the first state to take such a step to give a new life to Kuala Lumpur residents.
How is the progress of the squatter resettlement to date?
Previously, not many squatters were willing to move out. But we want to give them a new life through the PPR scheme. Since 1999, almost 16,000 families had moved to PPR. The number of squatters who have not moved out is small. We are taking steps to relocate them in an amicable atmosphere. The 2009 zero squatter target can be achieved through the cooperation of all squatters.
There are 13 parliamentary constituencies in the Federal Territory; however, you were the only Barisan Nasional candidate in KL who won in the 12th general election. What is the challenge like?
The Federal Territory is under the federal government. As the Federal Territories Minister, my approach has always been to listen to the voice of the opposition. Before the 12th general election, Kuala Lumpur only had four representatives from the opposition, but I still used the same approach. I also listen to the problems of representatives from BN components. What’s important is that we work for the people. I always welcome ideas and criticism. I stand true to the principle “listen to complaints and opinions before taking action”.
The point is to carry out our duties efficiently.
Recently you stated that there are more than 16 ministries, 30 agencies or departments under five local authorities that have some jurisdiction in matters pertaining to the city’s planning and development. Can you explain?
Presently the public assumes that City Hall (DBKL) has full control over the management and administrative affairs of Kuala Lumpur. But the reality is that part of the function is under the jurisdiction and responsibility of several related ministry agencies and government agencies. For example, City Hall is in charge of building taxi and bus stations, but bus routes are decided on by the Transport Ministry. Bus licences are given under the Road Transport Department and Transport Ministry. Roads are maintained by the Public Works Department.
Another issue is how to overcome social ills and crime such as immigrants, vagrants, prostitution and drug abuse. As a local authority, City Hall can only monitor the situation and control the issuing of licences and business activities. They are not given legal authority to arrest and detain because they only have powers to coordinate. This is the dilemma we face in Kuala Lumpur.
How can we overcome this dilemma?
For Kuala Lumpur to become a first class city by 2020 we need to use the Modern City Management approach. As a first step, the Federal Territories Ministry has set up a Management Committee to enhance the service delivery system.
We cannot achieve this by just beautifying the city and planting trees. We need to learn so much from other developed cities in the world. This is why the ministry has made visits to Singapore, Shanghai, Tokyo, Seoul, London, Berlin and Vancouver to study how the aspects of law, administration and management are implemented there.
If we want to develop Kuala Lumpur, we need to learn from the best.
Are you confident that this problem can be overcome?
We have formed a special Modern City Management Committee. Recently we have also organised a workshop themed Towards Managing and Coordinating a Modern and Stable City. All suggestions and inputs will be studied carefully before they are tabled to a group of ministers later on. Attention needs to be given to this for the future of Kuala Lumpur.
What about the development in Putrajaya and Labuan?
Even though Putrajaya is seen as the federal administration centre, the Putrajaya Corporation is now taking various steps to make it a commercial centre as well as centre for extreme and water sports. So far, Putrajaya too has its own arena for international equestrian sports. Apart from that, it is also famous as a “flower city”.
Labuan, on the other hand, is moving forward with the development of the halal hub, which costs RM50 million, funded by the federal government. Apart from its oil and gas, Labuan is also well-known for its excellent education facilities and duty-free centres.
Tempers flared when the Draft Kuala Lumpur City Plan 2020 was revealed. What do you have to say about that?
The city dwellers must have mistaken and perceived the draft as something that is final. It’s only a draft. Currently, it is at the public hearing process, including that of residents’ associations and non-governmental organisations. We aim to conclude the hearing process by June 2009, but I can extend the hearing process if the response from the people is good.
What about the Kampung Baru development plan in Kuala Lumpur?
The Kampung Baru development plan has been included as a separate entity in the Draft Kuala Lumpur City Plan 2020 this time around. This is a joint effort mounted by the Federal Territories Ministry and DBKL. Much effort has been made by the ministry to develop Kampung Baru including assisting the local residents on matters pertaining to land titles and inheritance. If the Kampung Baru development plan is well-accepted, it will not only create history but will also fulfil the vision to empower the Malays in the city.
What is your wish for the FT Day this year?
I wish for the three FTs to continue to enjoy excellent progress and for the people to have a good life on par with their counterparts in other developed cities in the world. — Bernama