Saturday, March 29, 2008

Local Government Elections at all levels by end 2008 (definitely NOT by 2010..)

2010 -- why not now? As soon as possible and latest by end of 2008 (not 2010). Let us consider term of office, and reasonably it should be at least 3 years...So delaying mattters is not at all an option...

And why are we talking about stopping at local council or town council elections (the Majlis Perbandaraan or Majlis Bandaraya)... we should look at elections at all levels of local government including the Penghulu, Ketua Kampung, the JKKK, the JKKT ....and there is nothing stoping us doing this...and we should follow the guidance of the new Perak MB -- whose only reason for suggesting elections at the end of the year was because that was when the current term expires...and if sooner, the better...

There are many levels of local government --- and we MUST introduce elections at all level and away with this practice of "appointments" once and for all.

proportional representation in the local councils based on the votes received by both opposition and ruling parties during the general election" ... is non-sense. There must be a different direct elections of persons to local councils and be aware that this can be persons who may belong to a political party or not...

I believe that at the level of kampungs, tamans, and even towns short at the level of local government voting shall be for individuals not political parties, hence there shall no usage of political party symbols (but nothing stops political parties endorsing this and that candidate...)

There may be a certain allocated seats for minority groups...but we shall see..

The election of SENATORS by the Rakyat must also be given serious consideration - if not at least a POLL or a REFERENDUM of sorts to get the people's choice into Senate...

There should be no procrastination with regard to local council, JKKK, JKKT, Penghulu, .... elections. People must start to experience and implement this new found DEMOCRACY as soon as possible and for as long as possible before the next General Elections....


Bring local council elections back by 2010
Azreen Madzlan | Mar 28, 08 4:48pm

Civil society groups today called on all the 12 newly formed state governments to prioritise local council elections in their agenda.

Suaram executive director Yap Swee Seng told a press conference today that a memorandum endorsed by 33 civil society organisations will be sent to all 12 state governments requesting local council elections to be carried out on or before 2010.

suaram local election pc 280308 yap swee sengHe said expectation was now high to push for local elections since the opposition has pledged to restore them through their manifestos before the general election.

"Ever since the BN had the two-third majority, there was no response to the demand. With the recent election results, we are making similar demands to the opposition parties." said Yap.

Presents at the press conference today were Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor dan Wilayah Persekutuan (Permas) president Tan Jo Hann, Empower representatives Pook Li Yoon and Andrew Khoo, a lawyer.

According to Yap, since many local councillors including village heads have resigned after the elections, the new state governments should consider proportional representation in the local councils based on the votes received by both opposition and ruling parties during the general election.

Although ideally, all the NGOs agreed that there should not be political representatives in local councils, they’re also asking the state governments to adopt aspects of good governance proposed in the memorandum.

The mood is right

Among others, the memorandum proposes that any political representative appointed must be competent and capable of representing the interest of the community.

Yap added the composition of political appointees should also reflect the diversity of interests in the communities.

Meanwhile, Andrew Khoo stressed that society at large must get used to the concept of power sharing power among political parties even at local council level for a healthier political system.

Acknowledging that amendment to the laws or enactments of new laws may be necessary, Khoo said the matter must be studied thoroughly and that state governments be given some time to bring back local elections.

"It’s time to bring this back. People are much more mature, and able to make rationale decision. The mood is right," he pointed out.

suaram local election pc 280308 groupIt has been over 40 years since the government outlawed local council elections through the Local Government Act 1976. Local polls were suspended following the declaration of emergency on Sept 3, 1964, which remains in force.

The call to have local council elections reinstated have grown louder in recent years due to an increasing reports and complaints on alleged poor administration and weak financial management.

Powers of local councils

Commenting on the recent resignation of the BN-appointed 814 village heads in Perak, Tan Jo Hahn said they welcomed the decision although it was wrong of them to claim that they were serving the ruling party.

"We welcome the resignation. We should not have these people. They have shown their true colours. Let others take over," he said.

Jo Hann claimed the resignation proved that the village heads are worried about being checked by the new state administration for possible ‘misdeeds’.

It was reported that Perak MB Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin had promised that they could remain in their posts until the end of this year and no one would be forced to resign.

Jo Hann, whose organisation works with squatters, said people affected by policies made by the governments should have a say on who they want to be in the local council.

He added that many people are unaware of the powers of the local councils other than ‘sweeping the floor’.

"Do you know that DBKL has spent RM 94 million to train their officers in social ethics? What is that? For this simple reason alone, the rakyat should know where their money goes." said Jo Hann.

Opposition parties have pledges to support the reinstatement of local council elections in their election manifestos during the general election. To date, only DAP has begun initiatives to fulfil the party’s promises.


Memorandum by Civil Society on Political Appointments by

State Governments

28 March 2008

We, the undersigned, call upon all the 12 newly formed state governments to practice good governance so as to ensure sustainable human development. This includes having State Governments that are clean, efficient, uphold the Rule of Law, and are inclusive of the diverse views and interests of the Rakyat.

We are concerned that previous State Governments had processes and procedures which were unclear and arbitrary. This enabled many abuses of public funds to take place, and left the needs of the Rakyat unfulfilled.

While the long term goal is to reinstate elections at the local government level, in the short term, we state the following.

Being transparent when making political appointments

State Governments have the wide authority and discretion to make political appointments. Besides appointing councillors in local authorities, they may also appoint directors to state corporations and enterprises, members of planning committees, down to village committees in the smallest kampung.

We propose these aspects of good governance to be adopted by the State Governments when making political appointments:

General Principles

1. Political appointees should have these criteria:

1.. Competence - have professional qualifications, be widely experienced in state affairs or are capable of representing the interest of the community

2.. Merit - be widely recognised as having achieved distinction in any particular profession, commerce, public service or other fields of activity.

3.. Integrity - be persons of good repute, honest and ethical.

4.. Equality and Non-Discrimination - uphold human rights principles of non-discrimination and equality.

2. Political appointments should follow these procedures:

1.. Transparency - clear criteria for political appointments should be set out;

2.. Consultation - mechanisms should be put in place to facilitate public participation in the nomination and selection processes of candidates for public office.

3.. Accountability - timely annual reports must be prepared and made available to the public. Regular open-door "meet-the-people" sessions and forums should be held to enable discussions between the appointees and the Rakyat.

3. When viewed in totality, the composition of political appointees should reflect the diversity in the communities.

Appointments of Councillors in Local Authorities

Understanding that amendments to the laws or enactments of new laws to bring back local government elections may be necessary and will take some time, we urge the following:

1. Agenda - all State Governments, especially those of Penang, Selangor, Perak, Kedah and Kelantan, which have committed to local government elections through their manifestos or the People's Declaration, should declare their road maps for local elections with clear timelines and milestones. Holding local government elections should be prioritised, and carried out by or before 2010.

2. Membership - selecting members of the local authorities should be a participatory process. Membership of local authorities should as far as possible reflect the diversity of interests in society. There shall be representatives from civil society groups without political party affiliations such as professionals, commerce, labour, residential associations, culture and the arts, people with disabilities, environment, women, youth etc. If there are to representatives from political parties in local councils, a proportionate representation for both ruling and opposition parties should be adopted. In addition, no State Assembly representatives and/or their immediate family members shall be appointed as councillors due to conflict of interest. There should be an overall balance of gender and ethnicity in the local authorities.

3. Criteria - members of the local authorities should be local residents. All appointees should have the measures of competence, merit and integrity as outlined above.

4. Appointment procedures - in adhering to the principles of transparency, accountability and open consultation stated above, the following should be noted:

(a) open nomination: each State Government should list and publish its criteria for membership of local authorities. The local residents should be invited to nominate suitable candidates; and

(b) display list of nominees: The names of all nominees should be made public and complete with their curriculum vitae. The public should be able to give views on the nominees to the State Government before public interviews are held.

(c) public interviews: Short-listed candidates should speak at forums open to the public so as to enable interactions with local residents. Public opinions should be taken into consideration by the State Government in making the final decision of appointment.

5. Accountability - councillors should prepare timely annual reports related to their portfolios. These reports should be published and made available to the public in forums to enable discussions. Citizens may petition to the state government for termination of their services of any councillor if found unsatisfactory.

It is our hope that this next round of appointments of local councillors for local authorities will be the last. No modern local governments should function without elected representatives.

This memorandum is endorsed by:

1.. All Women's Action Society (AWAM)
2.. Center for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
3.. Center for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC)
4.. Center for Policy Initiative
5.. Child Development Initiative
6.. Citizen Think Tank
7.. Civil Rights Committee of the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall
8.. Civil Society Initiative - Parliament
9.. Community Development Center (CDC)
10.. Council of Churches Malaysia (CCM)
11.. Empower
12.. Federasi Kaum Tamil Sedunia Malaysia
13.. Group of Concerned Citizens
14.. Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (JERIT)
15.. Kelab Bell Belia Tamil
16.. Labor Resource Center
17.. Malaysian Indian Development and Unity Association
18.. Malaysia Youth and Student Democratic Movement (DEMA)
19.. People's Parliament
20.. Persatuan Alumni PBTUSM Selangor
21.. Persatuan Kebajikan Masyarakat dan Sosial India
22.. Persatuan Kemajuan Pendidikan Malaysia
23.. Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor dan Wilayah Persekutuan (PERMAS)
24.. Persatuan Pembaca Tamil Klang
25.. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor
26.. Pusat Komunikasi Masysarakat (KOMAS)
27.. Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA)
28.. Semparuthi Iyakkam
29.. Sisters in Islam
30.. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
31.. Women's Aid Organization (WAO)
32.. Writers Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI)
33.. Youth for Change (Y4C)

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