KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 10 — Lim Guan Eng said DAP is not giving up on local council elections that the prime minister said today will not be reintroduced, but explained that Pakatan Harapan (PH) must deliver on its election manifesto first.
The DAP secretary-general reaffirmed his party’s commitment to the third vote but stressed that this was not specifically promised in the manifesto.
“Of course, we will continue to push it, but we have to look at two things.
“Firstly, we have to deliver on PH’s promises and after that is done, we go on to those which are not mentioned.
“Then we look at the second level — we convince the coalition to agree to local elections,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby today.
This morning, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Putrajaya will not reintroduce local council elections due to concerns of possible communal strife between rural and urban areas.
Dr Mahathir asserted that the so-called third vote may produce the “wrong results” that would create divisions between cities and less developed parts of the country.
Lim, who is also finance minister, said DAP will definitely support Local Government and Housing Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin should the latter pursue the policy to implement local elections.
The Penang government had sued unsuccessfully to introduce the third vote when Lim was the chief minister.
“As I said, this is not in the manifesto. Let us fulfil the manifesto before we talk about those commitments not in the manifesto,” Lim reiterated.
“We still want to see further democratisation, and that the people be given the third vote.”
According to Item 25 of PH’s manifesto, the coalition will “strengthen” the role and powers of the local governments with a “commitment” to “strengthen local democracy”.
Local council elections, popularly known as the third vote, were last held in Malaysia in 1963, with the next two suspended because of Indonesia’s confrontation with Malaysia.
In 1976, local elections were scrapped when Parliament passed the Local Government Act that only provided for appointed councillors to fill the posts.