Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Even Thailand have local council (local government) elections. Shame on you, Malaysia.

There is Local Council (Local Government) Elections in Thailand ...and it has been going on for some time now...and it works...and Malaysia must also bring back Locl Council elections

We had it in Malaysia until the UMNO-led government discontinued it in 1964...

Forms and Characteristics of Local Government (1997) in Thailand

Forms of Local Government Size and Population Chief Executive Legislative
1. Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) urban, 1,565 km2
population 7.2 mil. divided into 38 districts.
governor, directly elected by popular votes; who appoints 4 deputies, and 38 district officers 38- member council elected by popular votes;
each district has a 7-member council elected by popular votes
2. Municipality
144 municipalities (1997) in 3 categories:
urban mayor, elected by the council, council elected by popular votes for a 4-year term
2.1 Tambon Municipality
(48 as of 1997)
population > 7,000
pop. density - 1,500/km2
revenue> 12 mil. Baht/year
mayor, elected by the council; the mayor appoints 2 executives 12-member council elected for a 4- year term
2.2 Town Municipality
(87 as of 1997)
population > 10,000;
pop. density> 3,000 /km2
revenue: compatible with responsibility
mayor elected by the council, the mayor appoints 2 executives 18-member council, elected for a 4-year term
2.3 City Municipality
(9 as of 1997)
population > 50,000
pop. density >3,000 /km2
revenue as compatible with responsibility
mayor elected by the council, the mayor appoints 4 executives 24-member council, elected for a 4-year term

The reasons for the abolition of local council elections in 1964, and not having it again, was that "...on account of political expediency as most of the elected local councils were then controlled by the Opposition in towns throughout the country..."

People are smart and then to vote in such a way that there will be a certain amount of check and balance.

Today, Pakatan Rakyat governed states are, I believe, just as fearful as the BN , fearful that if they do proceed to have local council elections, the people may just vote in the Opposition into the local council - and this may means that the BN will end up in control the local councils.

Pakatan Rakyat must rid themselves of this fear... and restore democracy to all levels of government, and should immediately carry out local council elections - and even elections at the other micro-levels like Kampungs, Kampung Barus, Tamans, etc...

Democracy means governance by the community through its elected representatives for the benefit of the community. Malaysia has chosen democracy as the system of governance. As in other democratic countries, we too have chosen three levels of goverence - Town Councils (local authorities), State Legislative Assemblies and Parliament. The people’s representatives at all these levels should rightly be elected by the people. In fact, several years before Merdeka, while the country was still ruled by the British colonialists, Malaya had local council elections.

Elections to local councils continued even after independence from 1957 until 1964. The government headed by Tunku Abdul Rahman, however, abruptly suspended local council elections in the wake of the Indonesian Confrontation. Following that, a committee headed by Datuk Athi Nahappan was appointed to inquire into and recommend to the government whether or not to revive local council elections. Athi Nahappan was then the deputy president of the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), one of the three political parties in the Alliance which formed the government of independent Malaya.

Athi Nahappan’s committee in its report to the government recommended the restoration of local council elections. Although the Tunku was known to be a democrat - having spent more than 10 years in England, he must have been very familiar with the virtues of democratically elected local councils - his Alliance govrnment chose to ignore the recommendations of the Nahappan Commission (See ‘Act of betrayal’ by Dr Johan Saravanamuttu, Aliran Monthly Vol 20 No 4 for a comprehensive account).

You may ask why the Tunku rejected the recommendation. Let me refer you to the article 'Bring back local council elections' by a prominent parliamentarian and extremely knowledgeable lawyer, Karpal Singh, which was published in Aliran Monthly Vol 25 No 3. Karpal Singh hit the nail on the head when he put it bluntly that the government abolished local council elections on account of political expediency as most of the elected local councils were then controlled by the Opposition in towns throughout the country.

In Karpal’s opinion, which is shared by many, "…it is the abolishing of the local council elections in 1964 which led to the sorry state of affairs” that we witness today.

Local councils have become unaccountable, indifferent to people’s woes, inefficient in their management and intolerable in the way services are provided. Councillors become arrogant, abuse their powers, serve themselves, not the public, and become the source of corruption as has been exposed.- Aliran Monthly, 22/5/2007,
Restore local council elections

1 comment:

Andy said...

The municipalities with their elected councils date back till the 1930s, though there were only very few of them back then. Starting in the 1950s sanitary districts were created, finally there were about 900 of them. These also had an elected council. In 1999 these were all upgraded to municipalities. There are also the Provincial Administrative Organitation (PAO) for each province, another local administrative entity dating back to the 1960s.

However in the past all of these had quite limited powers and only controlled few funds. The real decentralization began around 1997, since then it has another local council not in your table, the Subdistrict (Tambon) Administrative Organization (TAO), so now all of the territory has a local administration, either the TAO, a municipality or the cities of Bangkok and Pattaya as special entities.