We have just embraced a brand new year and here’s hoping that the New Year will bring new as well as different perspectives to our lives. It’s time to reset and refresh how we are going to make 2024 a better year for us at home, at work and in our community.

Towards the last few months of 2023, the kopitiam was abuzz with who will take on the responsibility of councillor for the 24 zones in the Subang Jaya City Council especially since the extended term of one year had matured. Over coffee, residents were asking “Who will be our councillor? And who will be in the new Residents Committee (Majlis Perwakilan Penduduk) for the next two years?”

My reply was simple and sweet (like my kopi-oh-peng): “It doesn’t matter who the councillor will be so long as he/she knows what their role and responsibilities are all about. First and foremost, they answer to the residents; act on advise of residents and work in the interest of residents. Although they are presently politically appointed, they must remember that their position is to serve the people and not their own political agendas. Leave the politics to the politicians; councilors should just hit the ground running serving the needs of the rakyat.

“Residents Committees on the other hand are representatives identified and nominated from different residents associations and Rukun Tetangga to form an advisory council to the councillor. They advise, plan and execute programs and initiatives to engage and benefit the people they represent. They should (like the councillor) serve the people; and not serve their own personal agendas. They are also responsible for the funds allocated to each zone and ensure that these are used to benefit the community and not their own private endeavours.”

Does it sound like a mouthful? Yes, it does. That’s because both the role of the councillor and members of the Residents Committee are heavy responsibilities not to be taken lightly or for granted.

So, who will make it to the list of councilors for the 2024-2025 term? Your guess is as good as mine. But what I know for sure is, the chosen ones will be taking on the heavy responsibility of balancing the demands of the residents and the local council’s ability to meet those demands. Councillors will have to make sure that the local council is accountable for its budgets and actions; while making sure that residents’ woes are attended to promptly and efficiently.

What I hope is that the new councilors and their respective Residents Committees will not suffer from the “hangat-hangat tahi ayam” (all excited at the start but enthusiasm weans later on) syndrome. In 2023, we could see many zones in Subang Jaya suffering from neglect because almost everyone was burned-out or had lost interest in the job.

If that was the case in 2023, then it provides the opportunity in 2024 to see new faces in the makeup of the Residents Committees. Some have overstayed their tenure; neglecting to see the need for them to step aside for new blood to jump on board to continue with succession planning. Being in the committee is not a privilege; it is a responsibility.

Much needs to be done to regain momentum as well as the confidence of the community towards the councillor and his/her team. Kopitiam talks are all about broken down facilities, clogged drains, potholed roads, pest infestation among the few that get pointed out. Councillors need to stay in touch with people on the ground and not let themselves stray into just board meetings and comfy environments.

The first quarter of 2024 will be a fast paced journey. January will be a month to put everything you had planned for in place; February brings Chinese New Year and sometime in March, it will be the fasting month. There’s hardly any time to waste as we start the new journey in the New Year.

Earlier on in this editorial, we put the spotlight on councilors and Residents Committees. What about residents themselves? What role do you play in Subang Jaya? Are you just a voice in the wilderness? Or are you just the “tukang ketuk” in your community?

Residents play a very important role in building a city like Subang Jaya. In 2023, we hear a lot of “I am a Voter” sentiment whenever an issue is brought up. Well, you are right. You are a voter and so am I. But voting was concluded in 2022 for your Member of Parliament and 2023 for your state assemblyman.

Residents should engage with the authorities in a more constructive manner. Don’t just object for the sake of objecting. Do some fact finding; ascertain if what people are telling you is accurate or laden with selfish agendas which they are hoping you will neglect to see. Don’t jump to conclusions. Check and verify on your own before you act on anything.

Here’s to a good month ahead folks. Let’s get started in 2024 to continue building Subang Jaya to greater heights.