PETALING JAYA, June 13 — The Pakatan Harapan (PH) government need not wait three years to hold local council elections as it can be done as early as next year, a coalition of residents’ groups in the Klang Valley said.
The Save Kuala Lumpur coalition (SKL), Petaling Jaya Residents Association (MyPJ) and Penang Forum along with Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) believes that local council elections for city mayors such as in Petaling Jaya, Penang and Kuala Lumpur can be carried out by June 2019, while the elections for their councillors be done by December 2019.
Subsequently, all council president and councillors elections for the rest of the country be done within the three years’ time frame, they added.
“We already have local council elections in the 1950s but they were suspended a decade later. Regardless we already have the system to do the elections.
They only need to make the necessary amendment to the local government act and it can be done within the next Dewan Rakyat sitting,’’ lawyer Derek Fernandez said.
He added that the question of the technical and legal issues such as amendments made to the law to enable local councils elections do not need to take a long time to rectify as local council elections have been in place before this.
They were responding to Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin’s assurance that local council elections would be carried out within the next three years, though not immediately.
SKL chairman Tan Sri Aziz Abdul Rahman questioned the three-year time frame, urging the government to take action now and appoint an organisation to overlook the process on local government elections and other related activities related to it.
“They need a body to oversee the process of helping local government elections to show that they are serious with the stated timeline,’’ Aziz said.
The coalition also demanded that the local elections adhere to several other requirements, namely establishing a working group consisting of experts and civil society leaders, one-third of councilors reserved for civil society and community representatives which should not include economic interest groups, and for all appointments to be transparent.
MyPJ chairman Jeffrey Phang said there is an urgent need to return the “third vote” to the people, citing that the increased representative in local government by the public could increase the sense of accountability in public officials.
“Local councillors act as check and balance. However, there are cases now, where councillor is seen as a reward to political appointees and as such there have been a lot of abuses. This practice needs to stop and there is a dire need to bring back local council elections,’’ he said.
“Holding local council elections in line with the aspirations to institutionalise public participation, strengthen democracy and fulfil the expectations of the people in creating a new Malaysia where cities are people-centric, inclusive, clean, safe, harmonious, vibrant and sustainable.
“However under the leadership of the new Pakatan Harapan, there should no longer be any excuse or delay in giving the rakyat the third vote. Local council elections will strengthen the rule of law in all three layers of government,’’ SKL deputy chairman Datuk Mumtaz Ali said.