Last week Kuala Lumpur welcomes its new Datuk Bandar, Datuk Ahmad Fuad Ismail who is the ninth top public servant to administer the wellbeing of our metropolitan federal capital.
A career administrative and diplomatic service officer or PTD, Ahmad has seen a 35-year service with the government including a seven-year stint as president of the Subang Jaya Municipality, perhaps his nearest and only experience similar to the present job.
While I am not as frantically hopeful with my wishlist as the others with the injection of new blood in Kuala Lumpur City Hall, I hope Ahmad will not go down as another statistic in as far as Kuala Lumpur Mayor is concerned.
I am being practical and fair to our Datuk Bandar who had just stepped into the hot seat rather than landsliding with all kind of requests including to overcome the daily traffic woes, the parking problem and improve the public transport system in Kuala Lumpur for its too much for him to comprehend in a short time.
You see, the only well-known Datuk Bandar of Kuala Lumpur was Tan Sri Elyas Omar and he is one of the two famous persons in the job with New York’s Rudolph William Louis Giuliani or better known as Mayor Rudy Giuliani being the other.
Many will agree that Elyas was instrumental with the development and the goings-on in the city during his 11-year stewardship and the same could be described of Giuliani who presided over the Big Apple while the September 11 Incident (better known as 9/11) took place at the tail-end of his illustrious career.
After all, does anybody remembers Tan Sri Lokman Yusof, the first Datuk Bandar (who was initially appointed as Kuala Lumpur Commissioner on April 1, 1961 when it was incepted as a sole corporation before the mayor designation came into effect) when Kuala Lumpur was accorded its city status on February 1, 1972?
What about our second Datuk Bandar Tan Sri Yaakob Latiff? Fourth Datuk Bandar Datuk Dr Mazlan Ahmad? Tan Sri Kamaruzzaman Shariff? Datuk Mohamad Shaid Mohd Taufek? Datuk Ruslin Hasan and the eighth and previous Datuk AB Hakim bin Borhan?
They were hardly remembered after leaving the job, probably due to the impactless service or personality that did not leave any undelienable mark to the city but remains as statistics on City Hall’s website.
As a long-time city folk I like to see our Datuk Bandar a little more people-friendly and service-oriented with hands-on approach as well as being reachable 24/7 to the residents in time of need as was Elyas.
Then there was no luxury of the present day communication but yet the Datuk Bandar was always on calls by the residents and among the firsts to be on the scene of any eventualities.
I yearn to have our Datuk Bandar being omnipresent in the city rather than drowning himself with endless paperwork and meetings in his high-rise office since he has the City Hall director-general, his three deputy director-generals and a host of directors and officers to assist him administratively.
On top of that, Kuala Lumpur City Hall is also governed indirectly by the Secretary-General of the Federal Territory Ministry who answers to the Federal Territory Minister.
That being the case, Ahmad is able to attend to the pressing and imperative issues overwhelming the city and goes down in history as among the two most remembered mayors of Kuala Lumpur.
Otherwise, he will be another Datuk Bandar statistic.
Zukri Valenteno lives in Kuala Lumpur for the better part of his life and was in a school nearby during the hostage crisis perpetrated the Japanese Red Army at the US Consulate and the Swedish charges d’affaires at the AIA Building in April, 1975.