FORMER ministers in the Barisan Nasional administration used to lord it over the federal territories portfolio, an attitude that has trickled down to the senior officers and staff of the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), said Khalid Samad, who took over the ministry after the 14th general election.
Purging this attitude from DBKL has been a top priority for Khalid after Pakatan Harapan took over last year.
It is why he does things such as teaching DBKL traffic outriders to be courteous and getting customer service staff to respond promptly to complaints.
“We’ve been retraining DBKL staff as we have to teach them that they are there for the public. It’s not just the ministers and government who are chosen by the people.
“They are being paid by the public so they have to serve the public,” Khalid said in a question-and-answer programme on the BFM radio programme today.
“They used to follow the minister, and the minister looked on his position as something to take advantage of for riches and power. They were not too bothered with what the public said. This filters down,” Khalid said of former ministers under the BN regime.
Khalid’s predecessor, Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, has been charged with taking RM3 million in bribes from property developers to help them gain approvals for their projects.
“You follow your leader and the way he acts. The most important things PH has to change are attitude, accountability, transparency, and to (help staff) understand that you are there because the public put you there. You have to serve them and not lord it over them.”
Fortunately, newly appointed KL mayor, Nor Hisham Ahmad Dahlan, is a great believer in this principle as well and is helping Khalid to have the mentality embedded in DBKL.
While answering questions from BFM listeners, Khalid said some of the changes reflective of these new values can be seen in the way DBKL outriders behave on the road and how the complaints departments responds to complainants.
“I talked to them. DBKL has eight outriders and I told them they have to be as courteous as possible and I notice that now when people give way they, give these drivers the thumbs up sign. It’s a bit of an improvement.”
On complaints, DBKL now has to respond to a complaint within 24 hours and inform the complainant how long it will take to resolve the problem.
“What is important is that the response is immediate and we take action,” Khalid said, adding that the ministry is strengthening its communications department and the complaints units in the municipalities under its jurisdiction.
He said complainants whose grouses have not be duly attended to should take them to social media.
“I’m getting the complaints departments to be more active on social media so you should see them being more active in two to three months.”