Community leaders should stay out of politics

MIRI: A proposal has been floated around on the need to review the current policy on appointment of grassroots community leaders such as penghulu, pemanca and kapitan in Sarawak.

State Minister for Local Government Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian said that he would bring up a proposal for the review to the state Cabinet soon.

Dr Sim, who is also Sarawak United Peoples Party (SUPP) president, said last week that the current practice of appointment for the posts of community leaders is rather ad hoc.

“There is no proper standard format to appoint community leaders based on population ratio.

“For example, Miri has a population of 350,000 but there are only 28 community leaders appointed by the state government to the posts of penghulu, ketua kampung, pemanca and kapitan.

“But in Sibu town that has a population of about 200,000, there are more than 130 community leaders.

“This sort of situation does not make sense.

“There must be a standard format whereby community leaders are appointed based on population ratio and racial composition,” he said during dialogues when carrying out ground vists to Bintulu, Batu Niah and Lambir SUPP branches.

Dr Sim may be right in pointing out the need to have a proper policy on how to choose community leaders based on racial composition and population.

However, he should also stress on the need to choose community leaders who are apolitical.

At the moment, there is simply too much politics involved in the appointment of community leaders.

These kapitan, penghulu, pemanca, ketua kampung and tuai rumah are recommended by the state assemblymen and Members of Parliament.

This means that community leaders are political-appointees.

More often than not, these community leaders ended up performing political functions for their political parties when they should actually be serving the community full-time.

Unless these community leaders are apolitical and stay out of politics and politickings, they will not be able to serve effectively in their roles for the rakyat.

They will always be serving the politicians first and their service to the community will be compromised.

Dr Sim should make a proposal to the effect that community leaders should not come from political parties but from non-governmental bodies and civil groups.

Choose people with good track record of having performed well in serving the needy, those who have done well for the environment or have played key roles in building up the local community.

Take politics out of the equation.