KUALA LUMPUR, July 8 — The Housing and Local Government Ministry is preparing a paper on the proposal to restore local government elections to be presented for the Cabinet’s approval by the end of 2019, Parliament heard today.
Deputy Minister Senator Datuk Raja Kamarul Bahrin Shah told the Lower House that his ministry is running three workshops on the feasibility and implementation of the so-called “third vote”.
“The government needs to amend a few laws before it implements local government elections. Among them is the Local Government Election Act 1960, amended in 1991, which must be reactivated and amended.
“Others include Sections 10 and 15 of the Local Government Act, amend the Act that regulates the Election Commission’s purview and come up with regulations for local government elections. The ministry is preparing a Cabinet paper to be presented (before year end).
“So local government elections cannot be implemented any time soon until it gets Cabinet approval,” Raja Kamarul said in his reply to Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said (BN-Pengerang) during Question Time today.
In her supplementary question, the Opposition lawmaker then pointed out that Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad already said last December that the government will not reintroduce local government elections over concerns they may cause race-related conflicts.
However, Raja Kamarul maintained that all of the possible outcomes of and challenges to local government elections were being studied in the workshops and will be addressed in the Cabinet paper.
He said studies are being conducted in other Commonwealth countries such as India and Australia, the latter of which has a similar population size to Malaysia.
The study also covered the United States of America and the system used in the non-Commonwealth state for its local government elections.
“We are also engaging all the stakeholders including the state government, the Election Commission, the Attorney General’s Chambers and others,” said Raja Kamarul.
Local council elections existed here between 1951 and 1965, but were suspended in 1965 because of the Indonesian Confrontation.
Then-prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman had promised the Dewan Rakyat that local government elections would be restored once the Confrontation was over, but this did not happen despite the end of Confrontation just one year after the third vote was suspended.