Survey of Selangor Residents’ Knowledge and Awareness about Local Councils & KUASA Recommendation
Pihak Berkuasa Tempatan (PBT) or Local Authority Selangor Survey is an initiative from KUASA (Association to raise the voice of the people). The survey was conducted from April to June of 2023 as initiative from KUASA with the objective of creating a real understanding of the knowledge, interests, pain points and perceived impact the population of Selangor has of its local councils.
Local councils are bureaucracies without community involvement in decision making or policy direction. Residents have no meaningful way to engage constructively with their councils. Local council elections are imperative to reinvigorate councils into dynamic, community-driven entities.
For now, Selangor, and indeed Malaysia, fails the basic democracy test, elected power by votes. Local councils are unelected structures governed by bureaucrats with input from state-appointed councilors. The democratic voice is drowned by sheer numbers and presence of civil servants who have formed close-knit and opaque councils too layered and protected to be affected by external forces.
KUASA´s objective with this study was to map and understand the realities of how civil society is interacting with its local council. How much do people really know of the functions of their local council? What are the real pain points and where are they situated? How much interest is there to increase the democratic process to the local councils? All these where the core reasons for the activity.
The survey was conducted online and in person in 12 different public areas in Selangor with a result of 858 responses were received. 838 of them were in-person interviews and the remaining online submissions. The respondents were not sampled. Non-Selangor residents and non-nationals were exempted from the exercise and the exercise was conducted between 17 April to 06 June 2023.
The survey consisted of 14 questions intended to shed light on our previously postulated inquiries. These were formulated following survey best practices to avoid leading the participants.
Processing and Public Release
Once the survey was conducted, KUASA’s team began evaluating, organizing and digesting the results. This process led to various conclusions and insights regarding the perception of local councils from the perspective of civil society, their longings, requirements and most of lacks (section Key findings of the report).
Once all the information had been understood, digested and organized. KUASA proceeded with a press release on the 27th of June 2023. Various media outlets where invited to interpret the findings and these where recorded in the media. Alongside this, the report has been published in KUASA’a website in Malay and in English for it to be accessed by anyone. Two versions of the report where formulated. The first one, the full survey that is intended to deep dive into the results, showing much of the raw data and a second version that is more graphical with the objective of reaching a larger audience.
- When asked, only 4.1% of the respondents felt they knew the name of their council/district president or mayor.
- Ultimately, only 0.7% (or six persons) from the 858 respondents knew their mayor/council president’s name
- 14.4% of respondents said they were or are involved in community organisations (resident associations, village committees or other grassroots people’s initiatives), however of that number
- June 2023 – PBT local Councils Selangoronly 10.6% or — one in ten — feel they have strong knowledge of their council's functions (roles departments, decision making, processes & budget).
Conclusions and Future Actions
PBT Selangor Survey has proven to be an excellent starting point to further understand the realities on the ground in Selangor. This survey managed to shed light on what people know of their local.
Councils, how interested they are, what are the difficulties they face in their every day and what do they expect from this unelected but very present entity.
KUASA will further this exercise with workshops around the Selangor area that will summon active citizens, political actors and KUASA member to further knowledge of local councils and to have deeper conversations regarding their impact, effectiveness and future in Malaysia’s democratic process.
This exercise has clarified the deep need organizations like KUASA, that want to positively impact democracy, have of direct contact with the common citizen, to understand the realities in which they live, understand their level of engagement and knowledge and not just assume before acting. This is why KUASA intends to extend this project to the rest of the Malaysian territory where we might find further insights that will help to consolidate a clearer picture of the realities that frame this democracy.
If want to read the full survey, kindly contact Praba Ganesan at firstname.lastname@example.org