By JADE CHAN
THE STATE government will have a meeting with all council staff members who are owners of low-cost flats and get them to voluntarily return the flats, said Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim.“While certain decisions had been made earlier that allowed them to make the purchase, we feel it is ethically not right for them to buy the flats.
“We will try to convince them to give up the flats,” said Khalid when commenting on the issue of the sale of low-cost flats to 500 Petaling Jaya City Council staff members.
“Previously, the District Office was allowed to have a say in the sale of such flats in addition to the Selangor Housing and Property Board.
“But since we (Pakatan Rakyat) took over in 2008, we made it a policy to not allow anyone else except those who are eligible based on their income level and size of family to get the low-cost flats. Now, only the board has full say in such matters.”
The state guidelines say that those who want to apply for low-cost housing must be Malaysians above 18 years old, do not own any houses, and do not have a combined household income above RM2,500.
Khalid was speaking after giving the keynote address at the Bloggers’ Universe Malaysia (BUM) 2010, held to mark World Press Freedom Day.
He shared his thoughts on the impact of the Internet and the steps the state has taken to be seen as a transparent and accountable government, citing the declassification of documents under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) and Freedom of Information (FOI) enactment as examples.
“The Mentri Besar is able to declassify information under his powers of Section 2A of the OSA.
“We have been able to release some official state documents, and we will continue to do so to provide the public access to the right news and information.”
Khalid said if the FOI enactment that is scheduled to be tabled at the next state assembly sitting goes through, it would enable the public access to administrative information and issues within the realm of human rights protection.
Meanwhile, Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Minister Datuk Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin’s speech was on engaging the people via Internet and his experiences from Facebook (FB) and Blog4FT.
“My FB account has helped me interact with the public and does away with unnecessary protocols when engaging with them,” he said.
“It provides a natural check and balance as my FB friends would highlight various issues and these keep my officers on their toes.
“I also use FB to receive feedback and input on new policies, like the redevelopment of Kampung Kerinchi and proposed development for Kampung Baru.”
On Twitter, Nong Chik said he presently uses it to announce his programmes rather than as a communication tool.
“It requires a certain amount of dedication and time because of the instant and constant interaction, but it is something I will need to learn,” he admitted.
On Blog4FT, Nong Chik said it was a programme to encourage the public to blog positively about the Federal Territories by highlighting its food, culture, unsung heroes, and more.
“It was considered a success with almost 5,000 bloggers participating and 25% of the Internet viewers from the international community. It was especially useful in promoting Labuan and Putrajaya.
“While we plan to continue Blog4FT next year, we also need to address some shortfalls like the lack of participation by socio-political bloggers and and the need for more creativity,” he said.
As part of the government transformation programme, Nong Chik said that the younger group of civil servants who are more new media-savvy would be pushed to the forefront to play a more active role in the future.
He also advised bloggers to have a bi-partisan approach in their postings, such as writing about the positive and negative aspects of the country’s economy.
BUM is an annual gathering of bloggers and non-bloggers organised by the Centre for Policy Initiatives (CPI) in association with the National Alliance of Bloggers and a group of socio-political bloggers.
In his welcome address, CPI director Dr Lim Teck Ghee said the organisers worked hard to get a good balance of speakers both sides of the political divide this year.
He also urged everyone to rally to fight for the cause of media freedom to not only enable Malaysians to voice their view on the Internet, but also allow them to be able to distinguish between facts, lies and opinions.
BUM 2010 also featured a forum on Coverage by Mainstream Media — Insights and Perspectives with StarBiz managing editor P. Gunasegaran, online editor Wong Choon Mei, and Zakhir Mohamed of the bigdogdotcom blog as speakers.
Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad, lawyer Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, Haris Ibrahim of the People’s Parliament blog and politico-economic blogger Akhramsyah Muammar Ubaidah Sanusi gave their perspectives on the “Kalimah Allah” issue.
Kuala Selangor MP Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, Seputeh MP Teresa Kok, Human Rights Party pro-tem secretary P. Uthayakumar and Cheras Umno division chief Datuk Syed Ali Alhabshee talked about the bloggers’ role in bridging the religious divide.