PETALING JAYA, Jan 13 — Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah has said today she is ready to confront all sides to promote the need for local council elections, including with critics Umno and PAS.
The vocal human rights activist and former chairman of polls watchdog Bersih 2.0 said the issue of local council elections has been long-standing, not a new one following Pakatan Harapan’s win last year
“Of course. That goes without saying that engagement is not one-sided. We want to engage with everybody, definitely,” she said during a press conference after attending a forum on local council elections at the Royale Chulan Hotel here’
“They also have to understand, don’t forget, this isn’t just Pakatan Harapan has doubts about the local council elections but Barisan Nasional didn’t give local council elections to us either.
“This is not a new issue, it’s a long-standing one,” the MP added.
Commenting on PAS President Datuk Seri Hadi Awang’s claims that local council elections would only benefit the Chinese community, Maria rebuked his opinion and stated that Hadi’s statement was without factual merit.
“I think he has not done his homework well enough to understand there are already changes in population-wise as well as the distribution of people.
It is just an excuse of not wanting the election, so the argument of race should arise. This is about a democratic process which was abolished but we are asking it to be reinstated,’’ she said.
According to the 2010 Census, out of the 148 local authorities in Malaysia, only six are ethnic Chinese dominated, namely: Ipoh, Kuching Selatan, Johor Bahru Tengah, Pulau Pinang, Sibu and Subang Jaya.
Hadi’s reason also did not sit well with civil society MyPJ chairman Jeffrey Phang, who said such arguments are mere “distractions”.
“We are quite fed up with all this distraction because there is empirical evidence and we have said so many times that only six local authorities are Chinese-dominated so why he is bringing up over again. It is because when you repeat a lie often enough, it will become the truth,” he said.
However, Phang added that like-minded non-governmental organisations are also getting restless over the current administration’s lack of enthusiasm to push for local council elections.
Penang Institute political analyst Wong Chin Huat said the excuse that local council elections go against Malay interest is clearly “opportunistic”.
“The real objection to local council elections at whatever level is a partisan calculation to monopolise power so that the moment you grab state power you control the local level government so that you can use that top dispense favour,’’ he said.
Stating that the best way to move with local council elections, Wong said local communities could start with village elections.
“Because most of the village are mono communal so most of them will be Malays, Chinese village will be Chinese and a small number will be a mix.
“The moment people get used to voting for their village leadership then you can clearly see this is between your people and no one from other ethnicity stands to win. When they get used to it, it will be very hard for you to repeat the lie that more election is bad,’’ he said.
Wong also added that appointing people without going through an electoral process is also a sense of political patronage and corruption.