Saturday, February 22

A city to be proud of


Kuching South City Council’s vision is to build the most  well-planned, cultured, caring and healthy city in Malaysia.

UNIQUE ARCHITECTURE : The spired Kuching City South Council (MBKS) building.

MAYOR James Chan has pledged to continue with his vital role of making Kuching South City a liveable place with a strong voice and where the residents enjoy a quality and rewarding community life.

With his mayoral contract renewed for another three years, the energetic mayor spoke to thesundaypost about his vision, focus and challenge in realising the potential of Kuching South City as a metropolis.

“We have a city that’s neither huge nor small but is growing fast.

Right now, it’s sort of like a village city in the sense that we are not overcrowded, less congested, yet vibrant, convenient, lovely and calm,” he noted.

The vision of the Kuching South City Council (MBKS) is to build the most well-planned, cultured, caring and healthy city in Malaysia.

As such, Chan stressed the Council values the various communities under its jurisdiction and understands the importance of serving them efficiently and effectively.

“Like any business, my Council is tasked with managing operations within an allocated budget and ensuring our services can be assessed by the communities.”

Over the years, he said a lot had been done to shape a Kuching South City that is safe, green, clean and healthy through various community projects, programmes and activities.

“For instance, we are using more colours to create our landscaping with a variety of flowers. A more vibrant and friendly landscaping can enhance the environment and, in turn, benefit the residents.
While the city continues to grow and progress in tandem with development, Chan pledges to keep the ‘kampung spirit’ alive within the communities.

“We want to foster a welcoming, friendly and caring community where people can connect, share and bond,” he said.

“For this reason, we are holding the Community Event 2012 this weekend with an array of activities at five locations around the city.

“We want to bring people together so that they can get to know each other and have fun – and also take the opportunity to say hello to me instead of coming to see me only in times of trouble,” he quipped.

That aside, MBKS’ core functions include cleaning services, collection and disposal of waste, general maintainance of public facilities, urban beautification and landscaping as well as environmental protection and building control.

Although the Council has a leadership role, it cannot provide real and sustainable benefits unless it works closely with other agencies and the community.

Therefore, the Council is committed to re-examining the future direction of the city both in the short and long term.

Strategic plan

The Council recognises the importance of citizen inputs to enable it to further enhance the quality of life in the city. Towards this end, it makes meeting the needs of the residents the number one priority.

Chan revealed the new and improved strategic plan had been formulated within the framework of the Five Pillars outlining the shared visions of the state government and the Council for a liveable and sustainable city.

“By liveable and sustainable, we mean a city built on a strong economy and a sense of community pride.”

The plan contains five key areas of focus — neighbourliness, vibrant economy, integration and innovation of work processes, environmental management and urban beautification.

“Our focus is on preserving our natural environment as well as continuously planning and working towards improving and maintaining the quality of life for all,” he said.

“With the plan outlined, Kuching South City will continue to grow and change. We will deliver efficiently, bring about improvements, promote and foster a caring and inclusive community where city and community programmes, services and facilities contribute directly to the quality of life.”

To demonstrate leadership, Chan often goes down to the ground to assess the situation in response to community needs.

“Communication is a key component of strategic management of the city. We will strive to keep residents informed and engage them in town planning.

“Normally, I would go around to do a survey and get feedback from the residents before a final decision is made,” he explained.

For the next three years, Chan aspires to make MBKS into a council that embraces a role extending far beyond the direct provision of services — one that makes the case for Kuching South City Council to get more funding and create jobs, be effective in delivering services and managing its finances, break new ground in sustainability and innovation as well as provide a better transport network.

He hoped that with professionalism and integrity, the Council would be able to make a positive impact on life in the city.

The challenges

But then again, the future will hold a number of challenges.

To provide services to the community, the Council depends on money, people and assets such as parks, buildings and equipment.

“I know the communities want to see a council that is responsible in maintaining its finances and assets. They want us to behave ethically and encourage accountability and transparency,” the mayor said.

However, Chan who is an accountant, said given the limited funding, the Council would exploit the strengths and opportunities from all available resources to maximise output.

“We will ensure value-for-money in all our expenditures.”

The Council also recognises the communities want it to speak out for them and ensure their needs and future are considered at all levels of decision-making.

“The communities want us to involve and inform them and respond to their issues. But the demands and expectations must be realistic.

“We must understand money and time are both in short supply. We cannot do things all at once. Sometimes, misunderstanding and confusion of our roles and responsibilities with other agencies can be quite daunting.

“People must understand specific duties are given to other agencies. Therefore, in this context, a clear message must be sent out to the public.”

Chan assured the Council would try to help wherever it could.

“For instance, to upgrade the drainage at certain areas, we have to bid for federal funds. If we get the money, we will definitely do it.”

He also appealed to business operators, especially those who run eateries, to maintain a high standard of clealiness and hygiene.

He pointed out that by keeping clean and taking care of their premises, including toilets, backlane and shop front, the operators were doing not the Council a favour but sustaining their own businesses.

“We must have the right attitude so that the city can grow. We must change with time. It’s a shared responsibility to keep the city clean and tidy.”

There is more to be done. And with time, Chan hopes the Council’s vision will prove to be the catalyst for making Kuching South City a place and home its residents can feel proud of.