KUALA LUMPUR: Community and village leaders still remain relevant and an important grassroots institution that bridge the people to the government, says Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
He said the local leader's performance and persona is a refl ection of the federal government, stressing that their leadership must be fair and not practice nepotism.
"My presence here today is a manifestation and refl ection on how much attention has been given by the federal government to the institution of penghulu and penggawa which has existed as a grassroots institution for decades but still relevant and important," he said when closing the Peninsular Malaysia Penghulu and Penggawa seminar at Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) yesterday.
"Their basic role has not changed. Only that their approach has diff ered in terms of how they think and act.
Their approach must be adapted to the changing times."
Najib also said that penghulu and penggawa are the pulse of their community and must be aware of the problems aff ecting the people.
"Their main role is to become the bridge between the government and the rakyat.This is because there is nobody else closer to the people than the penghulu.
A penghulu is like a father figure to his community.
"He knows everyone and his door is always open 24 hours and seven days a week," he said.
Najib said that if penghulu and penggawa are friendly and genuinely concerned about the people then the public would continue to support the government.
"If this person is friendly with the rakyat, is able to calm any situation when there are problems and is able to resolve them. It will ensure the rakyat's continued support for the government in the past, present and future," he said.
He continued to stress that penghulu and penggawa must ensure that benefits from the government transformation plans must reach the targeted group.
"As penghulu and penggawa, we must find ways to help reduce social problems or determine what we can do to strengthen the morals in our community. How we can help those with drug problems and how we can drive the youths to a better future.
"These are the roles that should be taken up by the penghulu," he said. He said that the leaders must work hard in improving the image of penghulu and penggawa in the country.
"We must act in fairness and impartiality, we must be just. We must not have our own group and only prioritise those around us... There are those with ambitions of becoming an elected representative. It is okay but don't be too eager," he said.
"If in the past they (penghulu and penggawa) were loyal supporters of the government then now and in the near future, penghulu must become a pillar of the government," he said.