Sunday, April 27, 2008


When I first heard that the present municipal officials of Lianga are planning to move the municipal hall from its present site near the town center to a new location in the northern outskirts of the town and has even alocated government funds for that purpose, I was, like many local residents, more than a bit nonplussed at this rather surprising development. Like them, I have been witness to more than a few harebrained schemes hatched by the municipal government but this plan to for a wholesale transfer of the headquarters of the town government from where it has been since the founding of the municipality to a new site God alone knows where seemed to me more absurd and ill advised than usual.

If Lianga is a progressive town with a booming economy and a rapidly expanding population, it would be perhaps easier to justify the construction of a new seat of the municipal government at a more spacious and convenient location. The considerable expenditures that may be incurred in the building of a new town hall would be more than offset by the expanded range of services a new building would be able to provide and by the prestige and honor that such new infrastructure would command befitting a municipality on the rise.

Sadly, Lianga is neither a progressive town nor is its economy or population booming. So why then is there a need to waste municipal funds, which could be badly needed elsewhere, on such a a rather quixotic project. The present town hall, despite its limitations, remains able to serve the needs of the town government and its constituency. And why spend vast sums constructing a new building when for very much less expenditure the present town hall can be renovated or expanded if there be an urgent need to do so?

The fact is this penchant among local officials for building new if unnecessary infrastructure in towns like Lianga extend to more than the creation of new opportunities and possibilities for graft and corruption although that is more than a reason in itself. Grandiose infrastructure projects, at least those that can be described as such from the perspective of Lianga and other small and remote towns, are more than often engineered specifically for the abuse and misuse of public funds and therefore much sought after by many local town officials.

Aside from that however, there is a seeming need or mania (for the lack of a better term) by many local town executives and officials to initiate infrastructure projects as physical and enduring monuments to their years of public service like the ancient kings of olden times who saw the building of temples, pyramids, palaces and castles in their names as the true measure of greatness and immortality. Sadly, most of these structures that have survived today are remembered largely as monuments to egomania and frivolous decadence, built at great cost using the sweat, blood and, in many cases, the very lives of countless generations of the common folk.

The things to remember here, as always, are necessity, propriety and common sense. Is there really a need for a new town hall in a new location? Would the enormous expense of such an undertaking be justifiable? If the answer is yes then so be it. Let the labor commence. If not, then let Lianga's local officials disabuse themselves of the notion that their constituents will continue to turn a blind eye to their shenanigans. For the people of Lianga may no longer be as forgiving of misconduct by their leaders in office as they have been in the past.

And there is no greater monument to the memory of a life spent in public service than a service record that speaks of honesty, integrity and dedication to the democratic ideal of selfless service to one's community and country. To claim greatness where none is due by any other dishonest means or some form of subterfuge is a hollow and transparent trick that always gets caught in the end.

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