GEORGE TOWN, Dec 10 — Gerakan deputy president Oh Tong Keong today described Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s announcement that local council elections are not part of the government's agenda as another policy "U-turn" by the Pakatan Harapan administration.
He said the current administration's refusal to restore local elections is extremely disappointing.
“Reviving local government elections was one of the major highlights outlined in the PH manifesto,” he said in a statement today.
Oh said the Housing and Local Government Minister has repeatedly given assurances that local council elections will be held in three year's time after the country's finances and economy stabilises.
“Unfortunately, it seems that the government's excuses have just been renewed and the public now have to brace themselves for yet another policy U-turn by PH,” he said.
Oh said Dr Mahathir’s claims that local elections will create racial conflicts are far-fetched and unconvincing.
“The impact of a local government election in interracial relations is minuscule compared to a general election,” he said.
He pointed out that even the recent anti-ICERD rally was held peacefully and proved that the society is matured and ready for local elections.
“Concern for race and religious conflicts is not an excuse to delay or abandon the aspiration or plan to restore local elections for greater democracy,” he said.
Oh, who is also Penang Gerakan chairman, accused PH of being insincere in its promise to restore the third vote.
He said this is similar to the PH government’s various promises and handling of issues such as the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) issue, the abolishment of draconian laws, toll abolishment, recognition of Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) and many more.
He called on the government to stop “giving more excuses” for not delivering on its promises.
“The hope and plan for 'Malaysia Baru' is earning a bad name with a series of U-turns by the PH government,” he said.
Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow, in a statement, said the state government has done all it could to try to restore the local elections over the last few years but to no avail.
“PH made an electoral promise to restore local government election as we shall be guided by the manifesto,” he said.
He stressed that it is now for the federal government to take the necessary action.