Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Perak sticks by promise to waive fines

New Straits Times

IPOH: Despite criticisms from certain quarters, the state government will keep its promise to cancel compound notices issued by the local councils for parking offences and illegal trading.

Senior state executive councillor Ngeh Koo Ham told the New Straits Times that official letters would be sent to all 15 local government heads in the state advising them to implement the policy announcement issued by Menteri Besar Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin.

On March 17, a day after he was sworn into office, Nizar declared that all notices of compound issued by local councils would be cancelled.

Ngeh, who is also national DAP legal bureau head, said the letters would be sent soon to the mayor here and the presidents of the 14 other local councils.

"The letters will be an advisory to follow up with the announcement of the menteri besar.

"We (the state government) intend to fulfil that promise," he said here yesterday.

Several quarters, including non-governmental organisations such as Ipoh City Watch and Ipoh Ratepayers and Taxpayers Association, academics like Penang-based Dr Goh Ban Lee and lawyers like Gurbachan Singh and Roger Tan have criticised Nizar's announcement as being out of the ordinary and in contravention of established laws.

Ngeh brushed aside the criticisms.

He said while the state government recognised that local councils were another tier of government, they were subject to the direction of the state government.

He said by virtue of legal provision in the Federal Constitution, which states that local governments came under the purview of the state government, the instruction to the local councils to cancel the notices to compound could not be questioned.

He pointed to Federal Constitution's Schedule 9, List II (State List) item 4(a) which expressly states "the state government has jurisdiction over the local government" as the underlying provision by which the state government could direct the local councils to act according to its wishes.

"It is important to look at the Federal Constitution instead of taking a narrow view by looking only at the Local Government Act 1976.

"The Federal Constitution is the supreme law of the land."

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