Local authorities given native status after amendments to ordinance

Dr Sim tabling the Local Authorities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 at Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting today (Nov 9, 2020).

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By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, Nov 9:  The Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) today passed the Local Authorities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 which granted native local authorities native status.

The bill was tabled by Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian.

He said Section 131(A) of the Local Authorities Ordinance, 1996 (the Principal Ordinance) gives power to local authority to carry out development either by itself or with other local authority or person for residential, commercial, industrial or any other undertaking which the local authority may determine.

“Therefore, the proposed amendment to Section 3 of the Principal Ordinance will grant native status to all local authorities listed in the First Schedule of the Principal Ordinance to enable the local authorities to deal or develop their lands which are classified as native area land especially in the rural local authorities area and for any other relevant purposes stated in the Land Code,” explained Dr Sim when tabling the bill during the DUN sitting.

He said local authorities must ensure that any structure within their respective areas is safe to the public where any fence or structure abutting or encroaching into public places that causes danger to the public should be removed.

“However, the existing provision in the ordinance only allows local authorities to remove dilapidated fence or structure. The proposed amendment to section 131(x)(ii) of the Principal Ordinance seeks to empower Local Authorities to remove any fence or structure abutting or encroaching public places that cause danger to the public irrespective whether it is in a dilapidated state or otherwise,” said Dr Sim (SUPP-Batu Kawa).

Meanwhile, the Local Authorities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 also seeks to amend Section 161A(1) of the principal ordinance.

The present provision of Section 161A (1) of the principal ordinance only allows seizure, removal or detention of anything which is used or employed in the conduct of any trade or business when committing an offence.

“The proposed amendment to Section 161A(1) of the Principal Ordinance will allow local authority to seize, remove or detain anything used in the commission of an offence and not necessarily the things that are used in the conduct of trade or business.

“This will enable local authority to take action effectively by confiscating, removing or detaining the things or materials used in the commission of an offence,” said Dr Sim.

On the amendment to Section 165 of the Principal Ordinance, he said it is to allow delegation of powers by the Minister to any person.

“This is because the current provision allows delegation of powers by the Minister only to the Permanent Secretary or any other public officer.

“Delegation of power to any person can include any other agencies, statutory bodies, corporate bodies or other entities to improve efficiency and facilitate the service delivery to the people,” he explained.

Meanwhile, he said the proposed amendment to section 172 and section 172A is to expedite and improve the process of amendment to the Third and Fourth Schedules of the Principal Ordinance by allowing Majlis Mesyuarat Kerajaan Negeri (the State Cabinet) to amend the Third and Fourth Schedules by notification in the gazette.

“The amendment to the Local Authorities (Amendment) Ordinance, 1996 reflects the need to ensure that there are continuous efficient and effective service delivery to meet the local communities’ expectations and needs.

“In addition, local authority shall continue to be responsible, not only to provide services but also to ensure that the well being of the people are been take care of,” said Dr Sim.

He said local authority also will continue to play an important role by providing efficient waste collection services, carrying out good maintenance of roads and street lighting as well as to protect the environment and have a well control planned development within its areas.

“Like what I mentioned before this, when passed, this amendment will ensure that the areas in our towns and cities are always clean, lively and vibrant for us to live in,” said Dr Sim. — DayakDaily