Muslim groups oppose local elections, fearing more non-Malays in power

Aminuddin Yahaya, the secretariat chief of Ummah, said giving the public the third vote would allegedly only benefit non-Malays. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Aminuddin Yahaya, the secretariat chief of Ummah, said giving the public the third vote would allegedly only benefit non-Malays. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, May 29 — A coalition of Muslim NGOs has opposed Putrajaya’s plan to bring back local council elections, claiming such a system would allow more non-Malays and non-Muslims to hold power in the country.

Aminuddin Yahaya, the secretariat chief of Ummah, said giving the public the third vote would allegedly only benefit non-Malays.

“If this happens, then non-Malays will dominate not only city administrations but will have power over all the country’s wealth by owning all local councils,” he said in a statement.

The vice-president of Islamist group Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) pointed to statistics that showed that there were more non-Bumiputera in urban areas compared to Bumiputera.

“The non-Malays already control the economy, and now they will also control finances in cities. Will they then fight for Islam and Malays with the billions of ringgit collected? I am not confident,” he said.

He also alleged that having non-Malays as mayors will push the Malays into public housing or squatter areas, or leave them marginalised in suburban areas.

In addition, he suggested that there will be more non-Muslim houses of worship compared to mosques if non-Muslims were to take power in local councils.

Last week, Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin said Malaysians can expect local council elections within the next three years.

Malaysia held local council elections during the early years of independence, but they were suspended in 1965 amid the Confrontation with Indonesia.

The suspension, which was never lifted, was made permanent with the Local Government Act 1976.

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