KUCHING: There is still much to do for Kuching to regain its status as one of the world’s healthiest cities to live in.
The state capital was once recognised as a pioneer by the Alliance for Healthy Cities in 2006, and received the Sustainable City Environmental Award for 2009-2010.
Along the way, it also gained ‘Clean City’ recognitions from the World Health Organization (WHO) and also the United Nations (UN).
However, the past decade has not been kind to the city, even if it is still considered cleaner than some of its counterparts across Malaysia and Asean.
This presents one of the key goals that Datu Junaidi Reduan wants to accomplish during his tenure as the Datuk Bandar of Kuching North.
“Kuching used to be regarded as the cleanest city in Malaysia. Thus, I aim to bring back this glory.
“If you notice it, the DBKU (Kuching North City Commission) is currently moving towards this direction.
“For example, we have introduced ‘plogging’. During the recent Maulidur Rasul event, instead of providing rubbish bins, we provided the participants with plastic bags so that they could pick up the rubbish (while jogging),” he told The Borneo Post in a recent interview.
Junaidi also said the DBKU had identified several key focus areas meant to realise the plan of making Kuching ‘the cleanest, safest, healthiest, most beautiful, and smartest city’.
Above all, he said all these areas should be sustainable in terms of management and maintenance.
He believed that this would be possible through continuous engagement between the DBKU and those from both the public and private sectors.
Adding on, Junaidi said the DBKU had also engaged various government agencies in its initiative to beautify Kuching.
One of them was the collaboration with the Federal Agriculture Marketing Authority (Fama) Sarawak, sealed last November, involving the planting of flowers and fruit trees around Medan Niaga Satok – the popular weekend market located in Kuching North.
Junaidi, 62, was sworn in as the seventh Datuk Bandar of Kuching North on Sept 5 last year, replacing Datuk Abang Abdul Wahap Abang Julai.
Holding a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Sciences (Economy), Junaidi had helmed a number of key posts in the Sarawak government’s administration previously – including the deputy state finance secretary, acquisition director and budget director.
He was once the district officer (DO) for Lawas.
However, he viewed his present tenure as ‘being very challenging, having big shoes to fill’.
“I was Lawas DO from the end of 1987 until 1991. Being a DO, you’re the appointed head of a local authority.
“Still, being a mayor remains a challenge for me,” he said.
Nonetheless, Junaidi pledged that he would continue the good work of the previous Datuks Bandar, and strive to engage the public and private sectors in making Kuching a lovable and liveable city.
In this respect, he stressed that such a responsibility must not lie solely on the commission, or the shoulders of the Datuk Bandar.
“I admit that I cannot do all these things by myself.
“A good manager is someone who can get things done through somebody. So now, I have to move the workforce in DBKU around and engage those from the public and private sectors, as all the work and duties are the collective responsibility of all – hence, our motto ‘Together We Care’,” he added.
Using his past experience as the state finance secretary, Junaidi observed that DBKU would definitely need to undergo ‘a financial reorganisation’.
Such restructuring, he stressed, was crucial for the commission in view of rising costs.
“When talking about exercising prudent (financial management), it’s not just about control. We have to consider how it would be managed.
“We are looking at our revenue side, (and) looking at ways to become prudent and to reduce wastage,” he added.
On ‘organisational restructuring’, Junaidi uttered a ‘definite yes’, but was quick to add that this could not be done ‘every now and then’.
“Organisational restructuring would depend on the situation, because it would have implications.
“I am not saying that the current structure is wrong, but if we want to move into (the direction of Kuching being) a smart city, we have to reorganise ourselves.
“To me, the biggest room in the world is the room for improvement.
“As such, an organisation would need to be restructured to meet current and future requirements,” he said.