KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 23 — The DAP rubbished today Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang’s warning that restoring local council polls could trigger a repeat of the May 1969 polls, telling the PAS president that both issues have no link to one another.
Instead, the DAP’s national organising secretary Anthony Loke said Abdul Hadi’s claim that the third vote could worsen racial inequality in Chinese-dominated urban areas was merely the PAS leader’s way of distracting voters from his party’s controversial hudud bid in Kelantan.
“I’m completely shocked with Hadi’s statements… to relate the local government election to May 13 is beyond me… it does not make sense,” said Loke.
The Seremban MP pointed out that since the bloody racial clash in 1969, the racial demographics in cities have diversified significantly.
“There are not as many urban areas that are dominated by Chinese as claimed… most of urban settlements, for instance in Kuala Lumpur, are now mixed, and local government elections are not just about the urban areas, it is also about empowering district councils,” Loke told Malay Mail Online.
“We are talking about bringing back democracy to the third tier... the racial perspective is the last thing on our mind,” he said.
While attempts to restore the third vote was not spelled out in Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) common policy framework, the pact’s three member parties — DAP, PKR and PAS — had agreed on “strengthening local democracy”, said Loke.
“It is not a violation of Pakatan’s goals toward good governance and transparency,” the lawmaker said.
He also pointed out that PAS had not objected when the DAP-led Penang government enacted the legislation necessary to implement local government elections.
“This is clearly an attempt to drive away attention from hudud… their logic is since DAP is pushing for local government elections, PAS can push for hudud,” said Loke.
The DAP has staunchly opposed to PAS’ ambition to enforce the Islamic criminal law in Kelantan.
In a statement published on PAS’ mouthpiece, Harakah, Abdul Hadi said today that local elections would also widen the rural-urban gap and that the DAP is pandering to voters in towns and cities that form the bedrock of its support.
In August last year, the Federal Court decided that DAP-ruled Penang may not hold local council elections, which were held between 1951 and 1965.
The local council elections were suspended in 1965 because of the Indonesian Confrontation and the then-prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman had promised the Dewan Rakyat that local elections would be restored once the Confrontation was over.
The Confrontation ended in 1966 but local government elections were never restored.