KUALA LUMPUR, July 14 — The projected cost of local government elections for Malaysia’s 154 local councils is RM308 million, Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin told Parliament today.

In her reply to Bukit Bendera MP Wong Hon Wai during Minister’s Question Time, she said her ministry’s study of the matter put the cost for each local council election at RM2 million.

“From the legal aspect, we need to amend a few Acts and Regulations. Among the amendments that need to be made were to the Local Government Act 1976 and Local Government Elections Act 1960.

“We also need to look at the financial implication aspect of conducting a local government election and take into account the implementation mechanism of the federal government, state government and local authorities.

“The cost for each local government election is RM2 million for each local council. The total will be RM308 million for all 154 local councils nationwide,” said Zuraida.

She said the study should be completed in 2021 and will be presented to the Cabinet before being tabled in Parliament.

Zuraida stressed that the so-called “third vote” was crucial to empower local authorities while strengthening Malaysia’s democratic process.

Pokok Sena MP (PH) Datuk Mahfuz Omar then asked Zuraida if Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition party PAS has agreed to local elections as it was previously against the idea.

Zuraida shot back at her ally-turned-rival by saying that none from the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition had given her any support when the prime minister then, Langkawi MP Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, expressed disagreement.

“I’ve been waiting for this question, Pokok Sena. When I raised this agenda in the previous PH administration, I was told off by Langkawi (Dr Mahathir).

“No one from that side had the courage to support me, even when this was in the PH manifesto,” said Zuraida.