What is Rukun Tetangga and what is it for?
Rukun Tetangga or RT in short is a voluntary program which is run by the government of Malaysia aimed at developing the local residents around the country. It is very much a community association which is made up of respective residential areas.
RT is modeled after the ‘Neighbourhood Watch’ initiative as practiced in the United Kingdom where the objectives are similar, providing a platform and physical centre for residents to come together with a collective voice.
The last recorded number of RTs operating around Malaysia is 3,228 which were stated in May 2006 where this number has surely grown ever since.
The concept of RT was envisioned many decades ago where it was first officially established in 1975. The original intention of RT was to ensure the local residents’ safety. 9 years later, RT changed its focus from security to creating a harmonious community among the multi-cultural people of Malaysia. This will then evolve again in 2001 where RTs have become a driver for the development of local communities.
Roles and Responsibilities
RT plays a prominent role in planning patrol groups in the residential areas. This is one of the deterrent strategies for crimes in such places. The running of night patrol groups were practiced when RTs were first set up and is still very much in action today. The patrol groups are majority residents of the community while RTs today play other roles like running of programs to promote unity, charity-related programs and other related events which are aimed at increasing community interation.
Objectives, Benefits and Activities of Rukun Tetangga
The Rukun Tetangga or RT’s main objective is to promote and develop communities in the country. This means that it plays a very prominent role mainly because Malaysia is made up of people from different background, race and culture. Through the RT initiative, people from all walks of life can come together and learn to live in harmony and unity which in return will benefit the country tremendously. The RT has certain regulations that require members to be residents of a specific community regardless of their race or religion. Through this initiative, the members are able to cultivate values like tolerance with each other, acceptance of people from different backgrounds and learning each other culture.
Joining an RT can be very beneficial as it is the first place to go if one has any grievances or complains. Current issues, problems in the community, matters that are affecting their daily lives and others can be brought to the RT as the community will be able to provide the proper channel to the authorities. Residents can learn more about each other through the community programs that are organized by RT. This is where members of the community can enjoy open houses, festival celebrations and even daily programs like Tai Chi classes, self-defence programs, daily trips and government-run seminars, among others.
Among the most popular activities organized by RTs are its festival-based celebrations. This is where there are usually programs like Majlis Buka Puasa, Hari Raya open house, Pesta Tang Lung, Tahun Baru Cina dinner, Hari Merdeka celebrations and many more. All the activities organized by the RT are aimed at promoting better relationships among the people which will then contribute to the macro vision of a united nation. Apart from that, daily activities like night patrolling, exercise and fitness groups are held at RT centres as well.
Central Committee in Rukun Tetangga
The Central Committee of the RT (Rukun Tetangga) is elected every 2 years as required by the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development which might differ among certain RTs. This team of committee members is made up of those who are very active within the RT as they will be given the responsibility to carry out programs and events for the people of the residential areas.
In most cases, the Central Committee is headed by a Chairperson assisted by a deputy with a secretary in charge of administrative issues like reports and documentation of events. The treasurer is in charge of ensuring the efficiency of cash flow for the RT while other committee members are involved in their respective tasks and responsibilities.
The Central Committee plays the most important role in the RT as it is the main liaison between the centre and the ministry in terms of reporting and financial matters. All the requisition for assistance or monetary funds is channeled through by the Central Committee. It will collate all the resources from the Jiran Wanita, Warga Emas, Jiran Muda and any other sub-committees of the RT and subsequently liaise with the authorities while complains and issues related by the community are all handled by the Central Committee.
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