Thursday, July 31, 2008

Just like BN, PR is scared to have local council elections..

Why do they not have Local Council Elections? Somebody told me that it was because of the 'money' - it seems that the amount of money collected by Local Councils can even be more that the State income. (Anyone got any figures on this?)

Another person told me that Pakatan Rakyat is scared of what the people will do if they had local council elections. Traditionally, people balanced thing up --- i.e. if the State government was BN, then when it came to Local Council elections, the same people will vote in candidates from the Opposition parties. Hence, Pakatan Rakyat is afraid that the same thing could happen, and 'not their people' will get into and control the Local Councils...

Oh yes, this unwillingness to have Local Council elections is not new for the Opposition - there was no such Local Council elections also in Kelantan or Trengganu (when opposition ruled).

Such fears and concerns are NO EXCUSE for not bringing back Local Council Elections now. In fact, people want changes - they want greater democracy - they want to chose their reps at all levels - and no longer are they happyn with just choosing MPs and ADUNs..

A friend draw my attention to a piece written by Citizen Nades in Sun about this, and I felt it is good to share this article. (see below).

Here again, he talks about how there is NOTHING really preventing state governments from having Local Council Elections now...

I wonder when the Pakatan Rakyat becomes Federal government, will we be having elections of who will sit as Senators in the Dewan Negara. Even now, Pakatan Rakyat state government can give the people of its state a say in choosing who will be the Senators from their States -- but alas, I believe the PKR,DAP and PAS are just worried about their own party quotas...

Local elections still a dream

the weekend, a group of like-thinking individuals sat at the Royal Lake Club to talk about reforming local councils and the election of councillors in particular. Media reports quoted one of the speakers, journalism lecturer Wong Chin Huat, as saying that the Pakatan Rakyat-governed states must be pushed to revive local elections.

Having campaigned and pushed for election of councillors for a long, long time, such views may be wishful thinking, but it’s not going to happen. No government – PR or BN – is going to opt for elected representation in local councils.

Ask Petaling Jaya councillor Derek Fernandez who wrote about how the state could call for local government elections without amending the federal constitution. His opinion must be gathering dust in a steel cabinet in the state secretariat building in Shah Alam.

"Why not?" would be the obvious question. From what we have seen in Penang, Perak and Selangor, there’s no room for people’s representation. The composition of councils in these states shows that there’s room for only supporters and cronies. Having promised local elections in their campaigns, what was delivered was short of expectations. But do they care about public sentiments and expectations? Do they care about residents’ groups, civil society and community leaders in the decision-making process? Do they care about the mandate given by the people?

No dear readers, a big NO because they have to look after and satisfy those who helped put them there. They have to appease only a handful of hard core supporters and party workers, not the majority of the people who voted them in. For a good three weeks, leaders of the three parties in power were busy horse trading – who gets what. In the process, we the people became the victims of the inter and intra-party squabbles and people’s representation had to be compromised to make way for the interests of politicians and their parties.

And when pointed out to them that they have to include this group of people, they have the audacity to say: "We never promised to appoint them?"

"Oh Yes, we have included members of the public!" they would retort, but the next question would be: "How many – what percentage?" Having a handful for the sake of dressing up the representation is like having nothing at all. When councils are packed with politicians, the old malaise of "you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours" will come to the fore. With a council packed with politicians, the people’s voices will be drowned by the power of the majority. Will there be voices of reason or voices of interested parties and the businesses and the millions?

Never mind the fact that the Local Government Act says that those appointed must have expertise in a specific area or are well-versed in local government affairs. Look at the list and the facts stare at your face.

Wong, the other speakers and the motley crowd which attended the talk on local elections, were there with good intentions. They represented the larger interests of society but sorry to say, their voices are going to be lost in the wilderness of politicking and the art of diplomacy.

Another speaker, DAP parliamentarian Liew Chin Tong was quoted as saying: "Parties are important to make consolidated decisions." Whatever that means, it is a telling statement indeed.

Three months ago, when I criticised the composition of the councils in Penang at a forum organised by Ipoh City Watch, party supporters took umbrage and confronted me, saying: "You cannot say such things. It’s only two months. Give us time." Time to do what? Horse trading and manoeuvring so that the cronies benefit?

Would those who were members of the "Shadow MPPJ" who are now sitting in their air-conditioned offices care to give their views? Or are they waiting to be challenged to a debate?

It took the PR government four months to appoint councillors in Selangor, after several postponements. Were councils in the list of priorities? No, they were at the bottom of the ladder while those in power were busy trying to appease their supporters. As I said in a previous column, nothing has changed except for the abbreviations – BN has become PR; MIC, MCA and Umno have become DAP, PAS and PKR. Remember the demonstration by PKR members over the lack of "proper party representation in local councils" outside the MB’s office after the list was announced? That in a nutshell, says everything – We want 100% of the spoils. -The Sun Online

R. Nadeswaran is passionate about the way local councils are managed and run and has written extensively on the need for elected representation. He can be reached at: .

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Anonymous said...

Very valid point.

Would like to feature your post at our website and link our readers to your blog.

All the best

Anonymous said...

No matter what you say, the simple fact of matter is Pakatan Rakyat is not in Federal Govt today and the Federal Govt is the one PREVENTING local elections, not Pakatan.

You can give all the 'ways and suggestions' but these are stop gaps, not TRUE local council elections.

the only true way to measure Pakatan is to vote them into Federal Govt.

if then , they dont hold local council elections, you can blame them.

Until then, you are pointing the finger at the WRONG party!

The non existence of local council elections is down to one and ONLY one party, Barisan Rubbish!!!

Anonymous said...

CS: I know you are idealistic and all, but this is politics: YOU CANNOT KUTUK YOUR TEAMMATES PUBLICLY AND EXPECT TO GET AWAY WITH IT.

Learn to be a politician and keep your dirty linen at home.

Anonymous said...

I had attended a 'meet-the-candidate' session in the run-up to the elections, where R. Sivarasa was the candidate we were meeting.

When asked about the possibility of instituting local council elections should KeADILan take over any state govt, he replied in the affirmative and added, "you can hold me to that."

Although I agree in principle that the promise to conduct local council elections should be instituted, I am of the opinion that this is not particularly the RIGHT TIME to relentlessly press for it, given the "drama minggu ini" that's still raging in the political scene.

I'm sure PR will hold true to their promise once the "season finale" is over.

Pakatan and their leader are going through some VERY trying times. Give them some space to get their act together, can ah?