Saturday, March 13, 2010

PR's intention not to hold Local Elections revealed. There always were ways of getting people-chosen Local Councillors, not just by writng to EC

Wonder whether Pakatan Rakyat is taking the people on a ride again, with regard to local council elections.

They came into power in March 2008, and 2 years have already lapsed and we have yet to have Local Council Elections. All kinds of reasons have been given by the Pakatan Rakyat, and people have been patient with them for too long. Some of the civil society/NGO groups have also been 'silenced' in their call for local council elections - when PR strategically appointed some of the heads/prominent persons/influential persons from the NGO community as local councils. Sadly, the very persons who had advocated for local council eloections accepted the appointment. If it was just a temporary measure until say end 2008, whilst preparations were being being made for local council elections, it may have been acceptable. But there was one appointment for 1 year, and then another appointment - and they accepted.

Sadly, by reason of this some civil society groups/NGOs stopped calling for elections - and started talking about criterias for appointments. How sad?

But, then PR did the same as the BN, and appointed their party members & some NGO persons as local councillors. No mention on the websites for the basis of the appointment, or the background of the councillors. 

Then, civil society groups under a different leadership woke up again and started demanding for Local Council elections. Amongst these groups was the Coalition for Good Governance (CCG).

A short while ago, Pakatan Rakyat seem to have suddenly decided that they want Local Council Elections. It started with Penang. See earlier post:- Local Council Elections - Penang leads by asking EC to conduct elections..

Selangor MB then said that Selangor will follow suit, and they had written to the Election Commission. But, a perusal of what Selangor did seem to be just asking the EC their views. Another act of procrastination by a Pakatan Rakyat State Government who just is 'anti-democracy', and is not keen on Local Council elections. See earlier post:-Selangor not keen on Local Councilors chosen by the people - they prefer to appoint. A new attempt to pacify LC Elections advocates..

Do not lie to the people. If you really want democracy, and want the people to choose their own Local Councilors, there are many ways of doing it. Even if there is laws preventing it (which is not true), then you could have local elections[or call it referendum] and let people indicate the persons they prefer to be Local Councillors, and the the State could easily appoint the people as indicated/chosen by the people. 

Write to the EC and ask them to conduct Local Council Elections. EC conducts elections, and you have Local Council Elections. If the EC refuses, then you can take the matter to court to challenge EC's refusal, and also to get a court ruling that Local Council Elections can be held - but then, it is just one of ways of doing it according to the law. The Coalition for Good Governance (CCG) points this out yet again to Pakatan Rakyat...[Note they already did so long ago]

Najib's not wanting the Local Council Elections maybe good for now Pakatan Rakyat will  be 'pushed' to fulfil its promise to have Local Council Elections. Or will they? PR may just be 'empty talking' (cakap kosong) with really no intentions to have Local Council Elections. [They did not even have or encourage kampungs, kampung barus, tamans, etc to democratically elect their leaders in their states - and there is no LAW preventing them to bring about greater democracy at this level. The only PR state that did have this level elections was Perak.] See earlier posts:-Najib against democracy - Local Council Elections. Same with Pakatan Rakyat? It is interesting that some in BN also want Local Council Elections. See comments under this Najib post.
Local polls can still be legally organised by circumventing the Election Commission and without the need to take the issue to court, according the Coalition for Good Governance (CCG).

This bombshell is contained in a paper written by the CCG which pointed out the existence of three ways through which local government elections can make a comeback.

"It is misleading to think that if the Election Commission (EC) rejects the request for local election by the Penang government, then the state government needs to take it to the court," said one of the writers of the paper Wong Chin Huat.

NONE Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng had announced last week that they had written to the commission requesting that it conduct polls for two of its municipal councils.

Wong said that the state government should have taken the simpler alternatives instead of writing to the EC as their first step could prove to be a big hurdle.

"S.1 of the Local Government Act 1976 has the power to override the effect of S. 15 of the same act which prohibited local polls; therefore the state government actually has the power to implement local polls without writing to the EC," he explained.

Section 1 (4) of the Local Government Act 1976 - The state authority may, notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (2), by notification in the gazette exempt any area within any local authority area from all or any of the provision of the Act or from any by-laws

Section 15 (1) of the Local Government Act 1976 - Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in any written law, all provisions relating to local government election shall cease to have force or effect.

Of course, then the state government would need a law that enables the implementation of local polls.

This, he said could be done by referring to the Local Government Election Act 1960 which had not been repealed and which confers that power to the state government.

"Alternatively, the state government could also enact a new law for local polls," he added.

He pointed out that the state government could also resort to an administrative method instead.

This way, the EC will not be involved as that process is similar to the appointment of the Jawatankuasa Kemajuan dan Keselamatan Kampung (Village Development and Security Committee) in which elected representatives are eventually appointed by the government.

"So we can still conduct an election, and the elected representatives will then be appointed by the state," he said.

The CCG paper suggests that the role of EC could be filled by a local government selection commission comprising non- partisans and academics to ensure the selection process' transparency and accountability.

PR serious about local polls?

However, all said and done, Wong questioned the seriousness of the PR government in fulfilling their election promise on the matter.

NONEHe speculated one reason that the move was announced just days before the Pakatan Rakyat's second anniversary could be to pre- empt criticism directed at their performance.

"It was a calculated move by Penang's chief minister who made the request stealthily," he said.

He said their reservations could be based on the fear that if local councils fell into opposition hands or proved to be unsupportive they could lose control of their administrations.

"Now it is a winner take all situation where the councillors are political appointees making it easy to mange the state ," he said.

Such local appointments are a means of rewarding loyal supporters of the party.

"Some parties do not give material reward, and so when the party comes into power, positions are given out as compensation," he said.- Malaysiakini, 13/3/2010,
Local polls can still be held without EC

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