KOTA KINABALU: The Penampang District Council (PDC) should not bulldoze through its plan to increase rating areas and door tax without consulting the stakeholders, especially the community, in the district, said Senator Datuk John Ambrose.

He said PDC should hold townhall sessions for those affected.

“PDC should be transparent in its dealing with the community and not base its action on the report by the consultant valuer.

“Let the affected people have their say…then go back to the drawing board and come up with a better formula that is acceptable,” he said.

Ambrose was commenting on the displeasure of some 3,000 residents from seven villagers in Kolopis who want their area excised from the District Council’s operational area, claiming property valuations carried out recently will burden the under-privileged rural community.

“I wonder why for such serious matter that would severely affect the community, no townhall sessions were held to hear the people and leaders’ views. PDC should accommodate everyone’s views before coming to a decision.

“If one townhall session is not enough, then hold three or four sessions until everyone is satisfied. PDC senior officials and the consultant valuer should be present to hear the people’s grouses,” he said.

As for Kolopis, Ambrose said he was very familiar with the villages and agreed that the Council should look at what the problems the people there faced as well as the lack of public facilities.

“The Council cannot say we tax you first and then provide public facilities like streetlights, among others.

“Kolopis folks face many problems like frequent flooding which is made worse by the on-going construction of the Pan Borneo Highway.
Clogged drains and culverts added to the villagers’ miseries.

Rivers not being deepened and widened. Hill-cutting causing mud-flood during heavy rains. Riverbank erosions are causing some villagers staying nearby having sleepless nights.

“The main Kolopis roads have streetlights but most of them are not functioning for a long time, making the roads pitch dark at night.
“All these problems are not solved and yet the Council wants to add more miseries to Kolopis folks. I just couldn’t find a good reason as to why I should support the Council’s move,” he said.

Ambrose said the action by PDC has put the GRS-led State Government of Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor in a bad light.

“The people will blame the State Government for PDC’s plan although the State Government has nothing to do with it.

“I am not against PDC wanting to increase its revenue but they must be transparent and engage with the stakeholders. Hear their views and consider their plight first,” he said.

Ambrose said the Council should bear in mind that the district is not affluent yet as there are still many villages that need help.

“Many elderly people are not doing much while many of their children are working and only able to provide for their own families.
These elderly folks depend on their children to provide for the basic needs.

Some are planting whatever vegetables they can for their own consumption and sell the rest for their daily necessities.
Many of them don’t even have a saving of RM1,000,” said Ambrose, who is a Parti Gagasan Rakyat Sabah (PGRS) Supreme Council member.


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