Saturday, December 07, 2013

No Local Council elections and shrinking NGO or non-political party appointees

Ideally, we should allow the people to chose by way of elections. There may be 'hurdles' in conducting Local Council elections - but what is stopping the having of elections at the kampung, kampung baru and taman levels, and thereafter these elected leaders from amongst themselves chosing people who should be in the Local Council. The promises made in 2008 by Pakatan Rakyat is yet to be put into effect....

As a compromise to the greatest proponents for Local Council elections, Pakatan Rakyat agreed to have a percentage of NGO/CSO reps in Local Council but that percentage has been shrinking as times goes by...

Non-Governmental Organisations(NGOs) or civil society organisation(CSOs) representation is important - or rather it may be persons who are Human Rights Defenders - but the question is who chooses them? Ideally, it must be like what happened in Penang, where civil society chose its representaties and submitted the names to the State Covernment for appointment in Local Councils. It should not be State Governments selecting these persons on their own for then the chosen would not be NGO/CSO or HRD representatives, just a selection of persons the State Government (or rather the political parties in government chooses)

7 December 2013

The Selangor State Government will be announcing new local councillors to replace the present councillors.  Instead of implementing local council elections, the Selangor State Government has opted for an appointment system since 2008 and committed itself to an allocation of at least 25% of the councillors’ position to non-government organisations’ (NGOs) representatives.

However, CGG is disappointed to learn the following:
  1. Over the years, this commitment to 25% NGO allocation is on a declining scale. For example, the number of councillors in MBPJ Council has reduced from six (6) to four (4) and the two NGO seats are occupied by political party representatives. In MPSJ, there are two (2) NGO councillors and one (1) in MPKlang while in other smaller Selangor councils, there are almost none.
  2. A number of high performing councillors who were appointed under the NGO quota may be given the boot by end of January 2014.
  3. The appointment/selection is confined to horse trading between political parties, without any consultation or participation by NGOs (Star Online,

It is evident that the spirit of consultation and people’s participation rank low with the Selangor State Government and it is saddening as in 2008 when the appointment process began, Selangor led the way by consulting and inviting nominations from the civil society.

CGG, therefore, reminds the Selangor State Government and all state governments that the Coalition expects a more transparent and accountable process in the coming appointment system. We also expect that the 25% NGOs’ allocation to be maintained as well as not compromised to give way to political parties’ members who may disguise themselves as representing NGOs. The NGOs’ quota must be filled by recognised members of the civil society or well-known individuals who champion for human rights and social justice.

CGG takes this opportunity to remind the Selangor State Government that on 11 July 2008, a CGG memorandum was presented to the Government. It sets out our criteria on the appointment process and how it should be conducted as well as called for the return of local council elections. It is as follows:

CGG recommends:
Appointees must have these criteria:
a.      Competence – have professional qualifications, be widely experienced in state affairs or are capable of representing the interest of the community
b.      Merit – be widely recognised as having achieved distinction in any particular profession, commerce, public service or other fields of activity.
c.      Integrity - be persons of good repute, honest and ethical.
d.      Equality and Non-Discrimination – uphold human rights principles of non-discrimination and equality.

CGG also emphasises on councilors being Independent, Impartial and Non-party members if they are to be NGO representatives. This means that they must refrain from any bias or preference, or perform favours or provide partisan gains for any political parties.

2.      The appointments and the subsequent conduct of business should follow these procedures:
a.    Transparency – clear criteria for the appointments should be set out;
b.    Consultation – mechanisms should be put in place to facilitate public
         participation in the nomination and selection processes of candidates for
         public office.
c.     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.

CGG sincerely urges the Selangor State Government to fulfil its promise and to do the right thing.

In the long run, steps must be taken to ensure the return of local council elections. This was a promise made by YB Teng Chang Khim who announced that the Selangor State Government will table a Local Government Election Bill at the State Legislative in 2014 (Sun Daily, 1 July 2013).

CGG believes that the election of local councillors is still relevant and necessary to put into place as it will contribute towards the positive trajectory of greater democracy and accountable governance. Most importantly, the participation and representation from the NGOs must be included into the process as it is integral to the building of democratic governance.

Jointly issue by:
Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER)
Friends of Kota Damansara
Persatuan Sahabat Wanita
Dignity International

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