Citizen group wants local council election to be restored

A woman casts her ballot at a polling station in this file picture taken on February 9, 2014. A group of individuals representing various civil societies has called for the government to reinstate local council elections. — Reuters pic
A woman casts her ballot at a polling station in this file picture taken on February 9, 2014. A group of individuals representing various civil societies has called for the government to reinstate local council elections. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, March 28 — A group of individuals representing various civil societies has called for the government to reinstate local council elections, arguing that it is critical for community leaders to be beholden to taxpayers.

During a discussion organised by the Civil Society Caucus for Policy Reform on March 23, the group said that historically Malaysia had conducted local elections since before independence but that right was suspended in 1965 when Indonesia launched its ‘Konfrontasi’ against the nation.

“The current appointment system of local councillors lacks accountability because they do not need to face discontent from community, there is no check and balance by the residents if any councillor fail to perform.

“It is very unfair for the taxpayers who supposedly determine the direction of local planning and development,” said the Youth Section of KL and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall Lee Soo Wei to move the motion.

The meeting saw 40 citizens representing various groups including: Demanding Free Education Movement (GMPP); Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy; Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) and; Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (Madpet) among others.

The group also deliberated 35 proposed motions and passed 26 of them.

GMPP representative Sharan Raj also argued that since education is a basic human right, it is the duty of the government to provide free tertiary education including acquiring private universities owned by 15 GLCs.

However, Sunway University senior fellow Chong Kok Boon countered that free tertiary education is not sustainable.

He suggested the government consolidate the resources for higher education, combine and reduce number of higher education institutions (HEIs) and convert all HEIs to non-profit charity organisations entitled to subsidies per student.

Among the 26 motions passed are restoration of local council election; enactment of anti-torture act to curb death in custody; review the National Cultural Policy to prioritise culture and arts of all ethnic groups; review the national energy policy to maximise utility and deepen decarbonisation, and propose women to be paid fair and just wages.