Tuesday, December 29, 2009

PAS, the 'latest excuse' for Pakatan not having local council elections ...

Is PAS really against local council elections? Is PAS really the reason for Pakatan Rakyat's failure to hold local council elections? I do not think so...

I remember that it was a PAS Menteri Besar in Perak that upheld in part pre-election promises when he caused kampungs in Perak to elect their own leaders. 1 Kampung Baru also elected their own leaders, and the ADUN who did that was from PKR (a former SUARAM coordinator). What I heard was that it was DAP that was against local elections of kampung baru leaders...PKR also was not at all keen about allowing the people to elect their own kampung/kampung baru/kampung orang asli/taman leaders.

Let us look at Selangor - at the Local Council level, the Local Councillors have got these "MPP" (Majlis Perwakilan Penduduk- Peoples Representative Councils), which are appointed. There was also no elections of these so called 'peoples' representatives'.

DAP led Penang government also did not take steps towards greater democracy at all levels...

But, now they seem to be pointing fingers at PAS - and naming the PAS as the 'stumbling block', i.e. the reason for not yet having local council elections. I believe that it was all of them, i.e. DAP, PKR and PAS that were not interested in fulfiling their pre-election promise to bring back local council elections...

Why are they really not interested in restoring Local Council Elections?
- Fear that the people will elect persons not pro their political parties
- The Local Councils have a lot of money and power > and best to hold on to that wealth and power..

But, I say give the people the power.... let the people choose their own leaders at all levels including the Local Councils...

Trust in the people - they know what to do for the common good of all people in Malaysia at all levels...

Will Pakatan Rakyat’s failure to introduce local council elections as promised during the 2008 general election be the start of it becoming distanced from those who brought it into power? 

THE Pakatan Rakyat has made some of its most ardent supporters mad by reneging on its promises to hold elections for local councils.

Many are upset that the coalition has failed to carry out the promise, first made in the 2008 general election manifesto, in the five states it won, especially when these states are developed, populous and ripe for local democracy.

Pakatan supporters and many others are also peeved that the promise to hold local council election or restore the third vote as the political devotees say, was watered down in the coalition’s recently launched document titled Common Policy Platform.

The document, a masterpiece in compromises, seeks to give the three dissimilar political parties that make up the Pakatan coalition a common platform to stand on.

But the long-standing opposition promise to return local councils to ratepayers which goes back to several decades has been watered down to strengthening “local government democracy”, whatever that means.

The Pakatan has come under a torrent of criticism from a variety of people including human rights activists, lawyers and political analysts for watering down on the promise but also for its failure to hold local council elections in the states they had captured from the Barisan Nasional in the 2008 general election.

Ironically, the Pakatan letdown is keenly felt among top leaders of the DAP who had fought long and hard for the return of the third vote.

Local council election are called the third vote after the first for Parliament, and the second for States assemblies.

“We will face a backlash, we will be punished (by the people) because we had been in the forefront championing for the third vote for many years,” said Ipoh Barat MP and DAP national vice-chairman M. Kulasegaran.

He said he was “personally and deeply disappointed” with the “compromises” in the Pakatan that had led to a watered down position on local council elections.

“We debated the issue long and hard but local council elections is the one in which we (DAP) had to take a step back,” he said.

Kulasegaran declined to go into the details why Pakatan partners, especially PAS and some key PKR leaders, were opposed to local council elections.

However, he said legal complications arising out of holding local council elections were also considered.

Legal experts still argue over whether the Pakatan states can hold local elections or not.

One group says local election is possible and legally allowed. Another however says the law does not permit states to hold local elections.

The debate still rages on but no Pakatan member party is willing to test the issue either by going 
to court for a declaration or going ahead and conducting a local election.

The closest thing to such elections were by the former Pakatan government in Perak which boldly held elections for village heads.

Local elections were widely held in the 1960s and were mostly won by the opposition.

However, state governments were won by the Alliance/Barisan Nasional coalition — a situation that provided for an admirable check and balance and maximum returns for the ratepayer.

But such elections were suspended in 1964, ostensibly because of the Malaysia-Indonesia confrontation.

The suspension was never lifted and made permanent with the passing of the Local Government Act 1976 and related state laws which all allowed for local councillors to be appointed and not elected.

Although a Royal Commission headed by Datuk Athi Nahappan later recommended in 1968 the return of local elections, this recommendation was not taken up.

The opposition to local elections in the Pakatan is coming from PAS and sections of PKR who variously argue, within Pakatan, that the time was not ripe for local democracy.

For the DAP however, the return of local elections has always been a fundamental pillar of its political programme.

The opposition from PAS and others must have been severe for the DAP to step back on this key issue.

The largely urban supporters of the DAP have long suffered under appointed councillors and civil servants over whom ratepayers have no say.

Officials have often been accused of overspending, mismanagement, corruption and even riding roughshod over the ratepayers.

The DAP had championed the ratepayer’s cause, arguing that appointed councillors and civil servants need a master to oversee them to be effective.

The way is to elect councillors and not appoint them, they argued, well aware that if local elections were held, they stood to win handsomely and rightly so as champions of the urban voters.

Probably the fear of losing and the negative impact of such losses on the party and supporters were the reasons why PAS was so adamantly opposed to local elections.

Not only did they oppose local elections, they also did not introduce such elections in the states of Kelantan and Terengganu which they ruled.

DAP leaders are trying to appease their supporters, saying the party will work hard to convince PAS and PKR leaders on the importance of having local democracy.

“We hope to win them over … eventually,” said Kulasegaran, who had vowed to introduce local elections in Ipoh and had hoped to emulate the D.R. and S.P. Seeneevasagam, the brothers who made a name for themselves with their impressive administration of the Ipoh Municipality in the 1960s.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that as a coalition the Pakatan, individually and collectively, has to live with its failure to deliver on local elections, a fundamental plank of its platform. - Star, 28/12/2009, Coming unstuck over council polls

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