Time to do away with federal territories

Sharan Raj

11 Feb 2019, 9:11 pagi

Updated a year ago


LETTER | Currently, there are three cities classified as federal territories being Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya serving as the nation's commercial capital, offshore financial centre and federal administrative centre respectively.

The is no necessity to retain Labuan and Kuala Lumpur as federal territories and they should be handed back to their original states.

With the establishment of Putrajaya, the federal government does not need Kuala Lumpur anymore. Putrajaya should expedite the transfer of government agencies in Kuala Lumpur to Putrajaya thus reducing traffic congestion in the former. The under-utilised Putrajaya International Convention Center (PICC) could replace the ageing Parliament House.

Putrajaya could incorporate some parts of Cyberjaya to house the relocated government agencies. The Duta Complex could then be handed over to GLCs to be developed into affordable public housing which Kuala Lumpur desperately needs.

Kuala Lumpur could then be reorganised with adjacent Selangor municipals into multiple new townships. New unified city councils such as Damansara, Kepong and Cheras could be established while Wangsa Maju, Sri Petaling and Batu could be developed into separate thus improving overall governance.

Post-merger, Kuala Lumpur residents will have their own state legislative representatives and local councillors giving them second and third-layer governance and democratic representation. Currently, KL-ites are deprived of state representatives or local councillors.

A merger will improve policy cohesiveness as the current KL-Selangor division makes development processes very inefficient. Selangor could execute integrated development benefiting the whole central region without a hole in the middle. Issues like housing, public transport, utilities, drainage and rivers have long been a point of deadlock due to different administrations.

Selangor welfare programmes could be expanded to Kuala Lumpur improving residents' lives. Selangor's additional revenue of RM1 billion per annum from the budget for KL will help develop Selangor’s north and far south regions.

This, subsequently, will have a positive spillover effect on the adjacent states. Thus, the prosperity of the central region will be more equitably felt.

Labuan as an offshore financial centre (OFC) isn't yielding any substantial result after three-and-a-half decades of government incentives and subsidies. The IMF has listed Labuan as underperformer by international standards.

Labuan has become more of a tax haven hiding lawful taxes thus reducing the developing world's funds. Umno-BN have used also Labuan to divert Sabah’s natural resource taxes into Putrajaya hands by forcing Sabah’s petroleum operations to be headquartered in Labuan contradicting the MA63.

Sabah youth and entrepreneurs have been deprived of jobs and contracts by the awarding of contracts to “Umnoputras” who employ tens of thousands of West Malaysians in Labuan. For the record, the Pakatan Harapan-friendly Warisan promised to bring Labuan back into Sabah during the 2018 election.

Simplified state-federal boundaries will improve multi-layer democratic participation and provide a more balanced “tax with representation”. Putrajaya's substantial administrative burden could be eased with Selangor and Sabah absorbing civil servants related to KL and Labuan. It's time we rewrite history.

The writer is PSM vice-youth chief.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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