The confirmation by Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow that the state is ready to hold local government elections is very much a step in the right direction and another instance of exemplary leadership by him soon after declaring that the CM’s post in the state will be limited to two terms.
Discontinued in the 60’s, local council elections, or the ‘third vote’, is a democratic milestone as it gives the people the choice to elect councillors who are very much a part of local administration.
The reservation expressed by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad that local elections ought not to be held as it may lead to racial conflict and widen the urban-rural divide is, with respect, misplaced as there can be no danger of that in today’s Malaysia and furthermore, is a mere assumption in his part.
The people will have a choice based on information of a particular candidate who has proven himself/herself. The question of his/her race in the selection process cannot be a consideration, as if it was, then all elections, whether for MPs or ADUNs, would be, similarly, racial.
Such a mindset ought not to be considered any longer in our new Malaysia as the merits and capabilities of a particular candidate ought to be the priority in the selection of local councillors.
Furthermore, the current system of appointing local councillors invites obvious criticism in that such a system may be subject to abuse by the government of the day in selecting their own people to further their own agenda.
I cannot see anything wrong in reintroducing local council elections as it was a part of our system in the past.
It is hoped that the Federal government seriously reconsiders its position on this as ultimately, the people should be given the right to elect those who they want as councillors, the same way they elected their MPs and ADUNs, and it cannot be assumed that they would elect those councillors based on race which may lead to conflict.
The PH government must demonstrate its commitment to the democratic process and the reintroduction of local government elections would be one way of doing this.
Dated this 10th of December, 2018.
MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT
CHAIRMAN NATIONAL LEGAL BUREAU
DEMOCRATIC ACTION PARTY