Saturday, December 23, 2006

World's most outstanding mayor!

John So is the mayor of Melbourne, the second largest city in Australia with a population of more than 3 million. He was born in Shunde, a county in southern China and moved to Melbourne when he was 17 years old.

Amazingly for a migrant, in July 2001 he became the first directly-elected Lord Mayor of Melbourne, defeating several high-profile candidates, including Australian Democrats founder, Don Chipp.

As if that was not enough, early this month he has been voted the world's most outstanding mayor – a mere five years after becoming the city's first popularly-elected leader.

Between June and October this year more than 103,000 people from across the globe voted on 677 mayors as part of the World Mayor internet-based project organised by City Mayors, a international organisation working to promote local government.

He said of his award: "I am delighted to be elected World Mayor 2006. The honour belongs to the amazing people of this wonderful city and the hard working team at the City of Melbourne."

Those who voted also were encouraged to provide statements on why their nominee should win.

One young Melburnian wrote: "John So has captured the imagination of the people of this city. He has especially done so with young people. Where else in the world do people under the age of 25 cheer and stamp and shout out the name of the mayor?"

His comments refer to So's surge in popularity during the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games which led to "John So, he's our bro" and "John So for PM" T-shirts.

At the Games closing ceremony, at every mention of his name, there was applause from the crowd, which got progressively louder. It was hardly surprising that So, the only Australian mayor to be short listed for the award, said (naturally) Melbourne is a great place to live.

Any chance of a 4th generation Chinese Malaysian or Indian Malaysian becoming Datuk Bandar of KL, or even the president of a municipality council in Penang or Ipoh?


  1. well ktemoc, many Chinese and Indians were mayors and City Secretaries in Penang (my hometown): Dr D S Ramanathan, Sonni Pillay, P Rajendra, Lakhbir Singh, Tan Ghim Hwa, and even the present MPPP secretary Ooi Chin Loo. And Ipoh had the Seenivasagam Brothers. Most of these people were known to be luminaries (our local equivalents of John So ?) But sadly such occurances are getting rarer.

  2. small buddy, you're referring to a time when mayors and municipal leaders were elected; then, you would expect capable people, eg Ramanathan, DR & SP Seenivasegam, being so selected by the rakyat.

    I was referring to unrepresentative swill, eg. the current appointees of this and that Municipal Councils, who are nothing more than govt appointees not elected by the public.

    If they are to be appointed instead of being elected, then I ask again, any chances of a 4th generation Chinese Malaysian or Indian Malaysian becoming Datuk Bandar of KL, or even the president of a municipality council in Penang or Ipoh?

  3. I attended the pre-Graduation ceremon just under two weeks ago in Melbourne, having completed my degree. When the Vice-Chancellor came up to make a speech, there were sparse clappings here and there. But when John So took to the podium, there was a thunderous applause (everyone was standing anyway).

    And I'd say he deserves it. Melbourne is systematic and well-planned, it's public transport a thousand times more efficient than KL's will ever be, free entertainment throughout sections of the city, and et cetera, stuff you'd really want to see in cities in Malaysia. It wouldn't be fair if he took all the credit, as I believe he isn't the only player in the whole game, but compare him to the Datuk Bandar or let's say P.J or K.L. Do I know who they are? Do I even care?

    Of course, everyone knows the answer to why a Chinese or Indian won't become a Datuk Bandar of KL.