LegCo meeting should be more about discussions

I WOULD like to refer to the article ‘Call to obtain approval before building extensions’ published in the Borneo Bulletin on March 20.

It was stated that in response to a question from member of the Legislative Council (LegCo) Siti Rozaimeriyanty binti Dato Seri Laila Jasa Haji Abdul Rahman on illegal extensions to buildings and residences, the Minister of Development said that there are 18,667 illegal housing extensions in this country according to the statistics compiled by the Department of Housing Development.

In my opinion I believe the actual figure is much more than that as there is no way the relevant department has the resources to check every single house, apartment or shop in this country.

I applaud the statement made by the Minister of Development when he said illegal extension works could affect the structural integrity of a particular building and there is no compromise on safety.

But I also believe that when we talk about safety it is not only about structural integrity.

Faulty wiring is the number one cause of electrical fires in houses and buildings.

Electricians are not following the correct specification when doing electrical work or renovation.

To save cost, low quality switches, fuses and wrong sized cables are often used by contractors.

So, I hope the relevant authorities are not turning a blind eye on this issue as well. It is disappointing to observe members of the Legislative Council asking questions and the responses made.

I expected the Legislative Council meeting to be a discussion, not a ‘question and answer’ session.

For many years I have noticed that when a member asked a question, the response will be the final statement.

Common responses include: “it will be reviewed”, or “it’s the current policy”.

When we want to discuss something, it’s not only about asking a question.

We need to continue to ask question after question on the same subject until we get an acceptable answer.

Or else the discussion will still be continued even until next year.

Take an example on the issue we just mentioned “the approval before building extensions”.

Why didn’t any members of the LegCo ask the question “why people don’t bother to get the approval”?

I know that the cost to hire an architect to design and submit the application for the approval is high.

Just imagine, being charged BND3,600 for just a basic drawing for a small shop.

How much would it cost for house renovation or extension?

It could be more than BND10,000.

This is because there are only a limited number of architects approved by the authority.

The same scenario happens when we want to get a maid from the approved agencies.

Some even charge more than BND3,000 to get a maid.

All these high costs are a burden to the citizens and it all started when new strict policies were introduced.

Why were not these issues being mentioned and resolved during the LegCo meeting?

– Pg Abd Rahman