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pywong
31st October 2008, 10:34 AM
How we can have elected Local Government without "elections"?

Elected Local Authorities were active in Malaya from independence in 1957 until 1963. Most of the local authorities were dominated by the opposition parties and this was a major irritant to the ruling Alliance party at the time.

On 16 Sept 1963, Malaysia was formed followed immediately by the declaration of Confrontation by Indonesia. The Malaysian government took the opportunity then to suspend elected local government. A Royal Commission was set up to study the need for elected local government. As events later will show, it was a charade to play for time and to look for reasons not to have elected local government.

There have been several forums and news articles published that calls for the restoration of local government elections:

1. How local govts can be elected, Wed 30 Apr 08, The Sun, by Derek John Fernandez
Part 1: http://www.malaysianbar.org.my/opinions/comments/how_local_govts_can_be_elected.html
Part 2: http://www.malaysianbar.org.my/opinions/comments/what_makes_a_local_councillor_.html

2. Conference on the Roadmap to Local Government Elections 28 Jul 08
http://www.malaysianbar.org.my/bar_news/berita_badan_peguam/conference_on_the_roadmap_to_local_government_elec tions.html

And yet, we keep on hearing the same old excuse why local government elections cannot be held - http://tindakmalaysia.com/tm_forums2008/index.php/topic,149.0.html

a. The Local Government Act 1976 stipulates that only the Elections Commission (SPR) is authorized to conduct elections.
b. The SPR is under the control of the Federal Government and they will not agree to conduct local government elections
c. It costs a lot of money to conduct such elections.
d. We don’t have the electoral roll.
e. We are not sure that Derek Fernandez’s arguments will stand up in court. Our legal adviser tells us that our chances are not good if we were to sue the Federal Government over the issue.

What is very disappointing to the people who supported the PR parties because of their promise for elected local government is that there is no real demonstration of political will to have a local government selected by the people. So far, all they have done is to give excuses not to have elected local government so that they can continue to appoint their party members to the councils. The next thing they did is pass a State Resolution asking the Federal Government to permit the conduct of local government elections. These are mere posturings.

To test the sincerity of the PR State Governments, we wish to make a proposal that will overcome their problems (and objections) with respect to the Federal Government and the Federal Laws related to Local Government. It does not need a degree in Rocket Science to figure this out. All the political parties have been conducting their own elections for years without the help of the SPR.

Method 1 Current situation: State Government appoints local councillors without any significant input from the public.

Method 2 Full local government elections: The Federal Government agrees to the conduct of local government elections and instructs the SPR to proceed accordingly. PR claims that BN will not agree to it.

Method 3 Opinion Poll: Conduct an opinion poll of all rate-payers and the State Government undertake to abide by the results of these opinion polls.

Objections:
These are the common objections we have heard so far from the State Government.

Objection: The Local Government Act 1976 does not allow the State Government to conduct local government elections. Only the SPR is authorized to conduct elections

Answer: This is not an election, merely an opinion poll. So we don’t need the SPR’s involvement.

Objection: We don’t have the electoral roll.

Answer: We don’t need the electoral roll. All the local councils have the rate-payers rolls. There are about 1 million land titles in Selangor. The owners represent more than 50% of the voting population registered with the SPR. (Selangor has 2.048 million voters, GE13 Electoral Roll)

Objection: What if a person holds 5 titles – he gets 5 votes?

Answer: Yes. What is the objection to that? Surely that is better than the current system where no one gets to vote.

We are sure there will much more objections to come but basically it is just a measure of the State Government’s will whether they are sincere in fulfilling their election pledges.

How to conduct the polling exercise?

Voter Roll: Use the local council rate-payers rolls. This is not a problem since every local council will have a roll from which they extract the information to prepare their assessment notices.

Undertaking by State Government: The State Government undertakes to abide by the results of the poll and appoint the successful candidates for a 3-year term.

Vetting Committee: Set up a vetting committee to pre-qualify the candidates. The criteria for acceptance of a nomination for councilor are to be set up and established beforehand. They may include:
a. Local residency qualification
b. Professional qualification relevant to the requirements of running a local council. Eg Professional qualifications in Architecture, Engineering, Government Service in Local Councils at Management Level, Land Surveying, Law, Management, Political Science, Quantity Surveying, Social Science, Town Planning, etc.
c. Or successful business entrepreneurs/local councillor experience.
d. At least 10 years experience in the relevant profession or business.
e. Other criteria as decided by the committee and approved by the State Exco.

Who is eligible to vote: Only rate-payers who are current in the payment of their assessment are eligible to vote.

Timing of poll:
a. Calling for nominations of candidates for vetting by the vetting committee: 31st Dec 2008
b. Committee announces the list of eligible candidates: 31st Jan 2009
c. Campaign by candidates commence: 1 Feb 2009.
d. Polling slip prepared for posting to rate-payers: 5 Mar 2009
e. Last day for payment of assessments by rate-payers for first half 2009: 28 Feb 2009.
f. Local councils post polling slip to rate-payers who are current with their payment of assessment: 7 Mar 2009.
g. Rate-payers submit their ballot slips to the local council ballot box from 24 to 31 Mar 2009.
h. 1 Apr 2009: Ballot counting commence in presence of authorized voting agents of the candidates.
i. Top 13 candidates are selected to be local councillors. The number of local councillors should be adjusted to match the population and revenue of the local council. Eg 13 full-time councillors for MPSJ is adequate while it may be too many for Kuala Selangor. The candidate with the highest number of votes shall be selected to be the Council President or Mayor.
j. The current batch of local councillors will have their contract expiring by end Jun 2009. So the polling programme above will fit in nicely.

Renumeration of Councillors:
RM 5,000 per month with revision every 3 years. They are executive councillors and are required to serve full time. So, they should be adequately compensated.

They are to be provided with 2 full-time assistants paid by the local council to assist them in their duties.

They shall have the power recommend the hire and fire of staff in the local councils.

Remarks:
There will be a lot of other details that need to be addressed and one thousand and one reasons why it cannot be done.

But the fundamental issue is: Does the State Government have the sincerity and willpower to let the people have their voice in selecting their local councillors. This will be used as a benchmark to assess the PR Government on their other promises.

Conclusion:
Local government elections can be held through a polling system using the rate-payers rolls. It does not need to follow the format used for state or federal elections. To get round the restrictions of the existing Local Government Act 1976, we can conduct a “popularity” poll to get the views of the rate-payers. This poll can be conducted very cheaply and easily. The State Government shall then appoint the councillors based on the results of this poll.

This is a very important step to promote grass-roots democracy and protect us from moving back into the regressive regime of the past.

pywong
31st October 2008, 01:42 PM
Thanks to Bob Kee for this article. He did great work in researching it.

Bob K
31st October 2008, 02:16 PM
My primary objection to this proposal would be disenfranchisement. While the proposal looks like a good interim measure in view of the current deficiencies, it potentially opens up a Pandora's box of negative possibilities:


The legitimisation of the practice of poll taxing - ie. you may be old enough to vote but you may not have enough money (to be a rate payer) to qualify to vote
The reduction of the right to vote into a privilege
Further delay to any initiatives; current or future; to reintroduce local elections based on the principle of universal suffrage


Historically, the poll tax had been used in the southern United States as a method of denying ethnic minorities the vote, even after Emancipation. This continued until the 24th Amendment was passed in 1964. More recently, Margaret Thatcher lost her Prime Ministership because of the introduction of poll taxes in the last few years of her administration resulting in the massive Poll Tax Riots of 1990. While the British poll tax (technically known as the Community Charge) didn't effect the right to vote, it did deny access to certain essential services if a person did not have the privilege of being a rate payer.

This is one slippery slope that I do not want to even provide a toe hold for.

The line between what is an inherent right and what is a privilege; and whether an inherent right remains inherent for a citizen only or does it apply to all human beings; remains a difficult philosophical and practical question to answer. Malaysia's record, however, is already quite abysmal, whereby we throw in the factor of ethnicity and privilege of birth as additional criterias. The last thing I would like to see occur is to throw in another wrench into the equation.

pywong
1st November 2008, 11:51 PM
Article posted in Malaysia-Today here:

http://mt.m2day.org/2008/content/view/14467/84/

pywong
1st November 2008, 11:56 PM
My primary objection to this proposal would be disenfranchisement.

Bob, If you can come up with a better proposal without having to go to the Federal Govt or the SPR, I am all ears. :)

We are tired of listening to excuses why it can't be done and hearing about the State Assembly passing a resolution demanding that the Federal Govt allow local govt elections. This is just a sandiwara.

We want action!

Bob K
2nd November 2008, 02:50 PM
A fundamental principle of democratic governance is check and balance. This helps prevent what is known as the "tyranny of the majority". I am, therefore, less inclined to bypass any one branch of government, even if an existing branch is temporarily ineffective. It's the facilitation of short cut measures like these (in the name of efficiency), particularly during the Mahathir administration, that has resulted in the extremely stunted and "lip-service" variety of parliamentary democracy that we have today. Not sure if this is one slippery slope that we want to experiment with again.

pywong
2nd November 2008, 05:09 PM
A fundamental principle of democratic governance is check and balance. This helps prevent what is known as the "tyranny of the majority". I am, therefore, less inclined to bypass any one branch of government, even if an existing branch is temporarily ineffective. It's the facilitation of short cut measures like these (in the name of efficiency), particularly during the Mahathir administration, that has resulted in the extremely stunted and "lip-service" variety of parliamentary democracy that we have today. Not sure if this is one slippery slope that we want to experiment with again.


Bob,

I think you are arguing yourself into a corner. In the first place, local govt elections was a state right. A Federal law was passed which took the State's rights away. Now you are arguing that we should comply with this law in spirit even though it is an unjust law from the point of view of the state and the locals. Where's the logic.

whodhK
3rd November 2008, 08:01 AM
My primary objection to this proposal would be disenfranchisement. While the proposal looks like a good interim measure in view of the current deficiencies, it potentially opens up a Pandora's box of negative possibilities:


The legitimisation of the practice of poll taxing - ie. you may be old enough to vote but you may not have enough money (to be a rate payer) to qualify to vote
The reduction of the right to vote into a privilege
Further delay to any initiatives; current or future; to reintroduce local elections based on the principle of universal suffrage


Historically, the poll tax had been used in the southern United States as a method of denying ethnic minorities the vote, even after Emancipation. This continued until the 24th Amendment was passed in 1964. More recently, Margaret Thatcher lost her Prime Ministership because of the introduction of poll taxes in the last few years of her administration resulting in the massive Poll Tax Riots of 1990. While the British poll tax (technically known as the Community Charge) didn't effect the right to vote, it did deny access to certain essential services if a person did not have the privilege of being a rate payer.

This is one slippery slope that I do not want to even provide a toe hold for.

The line between what is an inherent right and what is a privilege; and whether an inherent right remains inherent for a citizen only or does it apply to all human beings; remains a difficult philosophical and practical question to answer. Malaysia's record, however, is already quite abysmal, whereby we throw in the factor of ethnicity and privilege of birth as additional criterias. The last thing I would like to see occur is to throw in another wrench into the equation.


Indeed, one may call the disenfranchisement relative to those who can vote in this plan a slippery slope.

But on the flip side, one can call the enfranchisement of a large bloc of citizens in terms of their bargaining power in deciding the allocation of more governmental positions another slippery slope, one that bodes well for cause of wider enfranchisement.

The Jim Crow-related laws in the American South were explicitly framed in the context of taxation to be a prerequisite to vote. It endured, because subsequent debates were similarly framed. However, we can avoid this, by keeping the reference point of the argument as having this as a step towards eventual suffrage for all residence of a local council's jurisdiction.

Furthermore, it must be emphasised that policies of disenfranchisement in the US South encompassed all stages of government, right up to federal elections, since state governments had complete authority over electoral matters. Thus, the disenfranchised were virtually denied all route for dissension. This temporary workaround, however, does not deny the right to vote in SPR-managed elections, giving a virtual check against any grievances produced by the lack of a vote in local elections.

I also find your argument that if ever there is a system that disenfranchised any segment of society, it should not be implemented as somewhat stymieing. There will always be arguments that any one law disenfranchises a number of people. It's why even in the West, electoral laws are always up or debate.

First-Past-The-Post systems, for example, disenfranchises by per capita. Proportional Representation systems disenfranchise regions of lower population density to a degree. But in both cases, it does not immediately follow that these electoral system should not have its place, as it dilutes certain people's right to vote relative to some of their fellow citizens.

Thus, viewed in the context of being a relatively enfranchising policy (relative to the current system) instead of a relatively disenfranchising policy (relative to the system present should this be implemented), it is a step forward IMHO, disregarding the rigidity of narrow principles.

cheers

whodhK
3rd November 2008, 08:12 AM
A fundamental principle of democratic governance is check and balance. This helps prevent what is known as the "tyranny of the majority". I am, therefore, less inclined to bypass any one branch of government, even if an existing branch is temporarily ineffective. It's the facilitation of short cut measures like these (in the name of efficiency), particularly during the Mahathir administration, that has resulted in the extremely stunted and "lip-service" variety of parliamentary democracy that we have today. Not sure if this is one slippery slope that we want to experiment with again.


Contrast between ad-hoc measures of the Mahathir era and this one must be drawn.

Mahathir's quick and dirty solutions were precisely doable because they were helped on and they helped on the centralisation of power in the hands of the Feds. This is not even taking into account the fact that the neutering of state governments began long before that and was already present in the first constitution. His was not the tyranny of the masses, but the whims of a few men.

As for stemming the tide of the potentially regressive "tyranny of the masses", I would add that it is not only the presence of checks and balances that aids against this, BUT also the presence of checks by bodies with very little or minimal input from the masses.

Taking the US as an example, it is why Senators are elected for long, 6-year terms: they are less affected by fickle and ever-changing public opinion. In fact, senators used to be simply appointed by state governments. Next, there are the various federal judicial appointments, that are for life and not directly selected by the electorate.

Now, in our context, the tyranny of the masses is far from encroaching our political system. There are only two elections a voter can partake in, reducing their effect. One of the election they to take part in is of minimal consequences (the state government), and the other is affected heavily by gerrymandering and various other mechanisms of apathy.

Thus, in the greater scheme of things, adding another election, one for local elections, will not endanger our democracy in the form of putting our government in the hands of popular fervour, the "tyranny of the masses".

cheers

pywong
3rd November 2008, 06:25 PM
Welcome, whodhK to Tindak Malaysia. Heavy stuff here. From your postings, I can see that if Bob and you get together, I better get out of the way.

I take it you basically agree that the proposal for "elected" local govt using an opinion poll of the rate-payers is better than nothing. This is meant to be a temporaty measure until the 1975 Local Govt Act can be over-turned.

pywong
10th December 2008, 08:22 PM
Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Forcing Accountability

The reoccurrence of landslides in Ulu Klang, Ampang, capped by the tragedy of Bukit Antarabangsa, is a compelling reason for the reintroduction of local government elections.

Amidst all the finger-pointing, justifying and spin-doctoring, one thing remains clear: that something is very wrong with the way the overseeing of hillside developments in that area, perhaps even other areas, is being managed. If it were otherwise, we would have not been seeing the scenarios we have since 1993 when Block 1, Highland Towers toppled.

...Which takes me to my point. Accountability and transparency needs to be forced on the system and a surefire method of doing this is by making administrators accountable through elections.
If the Pakatan Rakyat needs a reason to crank up its efforts to deliver on the election promise it made to reintroduce local council elections, here it is.

MIS

http://malikimtiaz.blogspot.com/2008/12/forcing-accountability.html

pywong
3rd January 2009, 07:24 AM
If we can have elections for village chiefs, why can't we have one for local councils? It is time for the DAP to fulfill their promise to us, which Lim Guan Eng describes as the third vote.

Selangor will also have elections for village chiefs this year
By Lee Wei Lian

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 2 — A day after controversial polls were conducted in Perak to elect a new village chief, the Selangor state government said today it plans to follow suit with similar local elections this year.

Ean Yong Hian Wah, the Selangor state executive councillor for new village development, says a pilot election for one new village will be held this year.

http://www.themalaysianinsider.com.my/index.php/malaysia/15117-selangor-will-also-have-elections-for-village-chiefs-this-year

pywong
3rd January 2009, 10:08 AM
This is the Local Government Elections Act 1960 incorporating all amendments up to 1 Jan 2006. There is a Law in 1976 on Local Government abrogating the 1960 Act. Does anyone have it? Please post it online if you do.

Bob K
3rd January 2009, 05:16 PM
I believe you are referring to the Local Government Act, 1976 (http://www.agc.gov.my/agc/oth/Akta/Vol.%204/Act%20171.pdf). It doesn't abrogate the Local Government Elections Act, 1960 but it does empower for the cessation of local government elections (see § 15 of LGA 1976). It does specifically repeal the Local Council Ordinance, 1952 and the Local Government (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1973.

This development has to be seen together within the context of the Emergency (Essential Powers) Act, 1979. It retrospectively validated the continuation of the Emergency (Essential Powers) Act, 1964 and the Emergency (Suspension of Local Government Elections) Regulations, 1965. It is under the latter 2 legislations that obsolete regulations like the maintenance of a people's militia (ie. RELA) and the continued suspension of local government elections remain legal.

This same Act makes it a direct threat to the Pakatan states that punitive action could possibly be taken legally against them (including the suspension of the state constitution, ie - suspension of the State Assembly and the removal of the ruling party from power) should they attempt to introduce local government elections. The reason why such elections could be held for New Villages and Kampung Tersusun would be because these entities fall outside the jurisdiction of the Local Government Act, 1976.

The Emergency (Essential Powers) Act, 1979 can be found here in PDF:

http://www.agc.gov.my/agc/oth/Akta/Vol.%205/Act%20216.pdf

I have not found copies of the other 2 legislations online yet.

It is interesting to note that the first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, was quoted to have said this when debating for the passing of the Emergency (Suspension of Local Government Elections) Regulations in Parliament:


It is the aim of this Government to bring this state of emergency to an end as soon as and as quickly as possible, and no effort will be spared to bring this emergency to an end. So, it is my hope that members of all political parties will appreciate the need for the introduction of these new Regulations, i.e. the Emergency (Suspension of Local Government Elections) Regulations, 1965. The very moment peace is declared I can assure this House that the elections will be held. I ask Honourable Members and the people of this country to bear with the Government and to support the Government in this new move.

Official Report of the First Session of the Second House of Representatives
Vol I, Number 47; Monday; 1st March, 1965

I've shared some further thoughts on this shortly after the 2008 Elections here:

http://www.bobjots.org/2008/03/local-elections-legally-possible/

but I will not re-post it. I don't wanna be accused of language yoga again ;)

Chronologically, we can see the developments evolve this way:


Local Council Ordinance, 1952
- Paved the way for the first local government elections in Georgetown and Kuala Lumpur
Local Government Elections Act, 1960
- Streamlined electoral procedures for local government elections
Emergency (Essential Powers) Act, 1964
- Suspension of certain civil liberties due to the Confrontation
Emergency (Suspension of Local Government Elections) Regulations, 1965
- Local Government elections and provisions of the Local Government Elections Act, 1960 suspended
Royal Commission of Inquiry on Local Authorities, 1965
- Recommended restoration of local government elections after certain reforms were made to the process to reduce fraud and corruption
May 13 Incident, 1969
- Convenient excuse/reason to suspend civil liberties further despite end of hostilities with Indonesia and the Phillippines
Cabinet Committee Report on Athi Nahappan Report, 1970
- Endorsed report with minor changes. Findings ignored by Executive
Development Administration Unit Report and Recommendations
- Proposed for the abolishment of local government elections as it was deemed inconsistent with new national objectives like the NEP and provided for "an over-democratized over-government at the local level". Recommendations accepted by Executive
Local Government (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1973
- Reaffirmed suspension of local government elections and provided for interim administrative structures
Local Government Act, 1976
- Formalised new local government structure and the continued suspension of local government elections without specifically repealing the Local Government Elections Act, 1960
Emergency (Essential Powers) Act, 1979
- Provided legal proviso for LGA 1976 and other legislations/regulations suspending local government elections by retrospectively extending the provisions of the 1964 and 1965 Emergency legislations/regulations


Convoluted? Yes .. but absolutely necessary if one wants to understand the legal complexities and constraints surrounding something as "simple" as the restoration of local government elections.

pywong
3rd January 2009, 06:03 PM
Bob,

As far as I can tell, conducting an opinion poll as per my first posting side-steps a lot of the legalities. It can be an interim measure until there is a change in the ruling party from UMNO to PR. And I don't buy your concern about slippery slopes. Right now, we are ON a slippery slope to oblivion.

pywong
3rd January 2009, 06:17 PM
I've shared some further thoughts on this shortly after the 2008 Elections here:

http://www.bobjots.org/2008/03/local-elections-legally-possible/

but I will not re-post it. I don't wanna be accused of language yoga again ;)

Bob, I visited your site. How come you can write straight English there and yoga English here? ;D

rocky
4th January 2009, 12:16 AM
My primary objection to this proposal would be disenfranchisement.

Bob, If you can come up with a better proposal without having to go to the Federal Govt or the SPR, I am all ears. :)

We are tired of listening to excuses why it can't be done and hearing about the State Assembly passing a resolution demanding that the Federal Govt allow local govt elections. This is just a sandiwara.

We want action!


Doing something is better than doing nothing. The PR folks have so many reasons why they can't do it. Even when some do it like in Perak, they say don't. I question the sincerity of PR on this matter.Once in power, they change different tunes. So PR, do something....we will see you next GE.

pywong
4th January 2009, 06:54 AM
Doing something is better than doing nothing. The PR folks have so many reasons why they can't do it. Even when some do it like in Perak, they say don't. I question the sincerity of PR on this matter.Once in power, they change different tunes. So PR, do something....we will see you next GE.


Rocky, we can't wait until next GE. It is in the PR's own interest to do it immediately, although they are not bright enough to see it. So we have to knock their heads a bit. If that doesn't work, we may need a 2 x 4. ;D

There are now stories about Excos, councillors and even JKP being bought over by big money. That is what I have warned about in the Rat Race. Human beings are constantly being driven by greed and when they are given unchecked power, they will tend to abuse it. That's why I proposed a consideration of the anti-racketeering Act (RICO) here.
http://tindakmalaysia.com/tm_forums2008/index.php/topic,315.0.html

Lots of work to do. Even if Anwar takes over the Federal Govt, he will need at least 15 years before we can see some meaningful results. Not easy to undo 51 years of UMNO damage. That's why it is important we have to see who are the people after Anwar. I doubt he will be interested to bear the burden of PM for 15 years.

It is important we temper our expectations with realism and identify what is possible short-term, propose the solutions, and what need long-term solutions. No point just shouting and ranting.

Identify the problems and propose the solutions!

racheljansz
4th January 2009, 07:26 AM
Can you explain this in English? Exactly how can we have local elections again?
March 14th, 2008 at 10:30 am
Bob K - The state government is empowered by the Local Government Act to ignore the Local Government Act
March 14th, 2008 at 6:42 pm
A new day in a new year. It's 2009, 20 years after peace treaties have been signed with our domestic Communist guerillas in 1989.
I cant wait for the first Pakatan State to lead the way forward.
Hmmm...which will be the first?
Selangor, Perak, Penang, Kedah or Kelantan?

Better they get their act together and implement together!

Bob K
4th January 2009, 08:16 AM
Personally, I still would disagree with using ratepayers' rolls as the basis for conducting an opinion poll. Its too elitist (esp. the idea of multiple votes for people who hold multiple title deeds!!??) and its not like we do not have access to the last electoral roll used for the General Elections.

Whether we like it or not, and with or without elections, we will still have politicians taking up these positions. Anybody who opts to participate in this process is already a politician by definition and practice. Politics is not necessarily a four letter word.

Now having said the above, I agree that we need to start pushing for some positive development in the area of the development of a third vote. No doubt, there are a lot of interim problems at hand but that should be no excuse for paralysis in this area. The question would be - what is the first step and how do we pressure for this step to be taken.

pywong
4th January 2009, 10:10 AM
Personally, I still would disagree with using ratepayers' rolls as the basis for conducting an opinion poll. Its too elitist (esp. the idea of multiple votes for people who hold multiple title deeds!!??) and its not like we do not have access to the last electoral roll used for the General Elections.

Bob, these are the objections raised by Khalid and Ronnie Liu against local govt elections:
1. Cost.
2. Electoral roll is rife with phantoms.
3. Postal voters
4. Only the SPR is authorised to conduct elections.

It's well and good to object on the basis of elitism. Isn't the present system of appointment by the State Govt elitist?

Do you have a practical proposal to overcome those problems without giving an excuse for the Federal Govt to suspend the State Govt?

Please make a proposal in plain English. Don't just object only. We expect more from you.

chakngoon.ng
4th January 2009, 10:34 AM
I do not have much to add to this discussion except to express my support for local council elections. There will be no perfect system. You can come up with any other system and I am quite sure I can find at least one ground to object to it. Any form of local government selected by ratepayers or residents will be better than the present system in which councillors are appointed by the state government.

The gist of it before us as voters is this: If local council election has been an election promise by PR, we should consider this as a breach of promise and how much weightage we should put on it when we cast our votes in the next elections.

I find it laughable that costs, [burden of] administration of the elections, and other reasons should be cited as excuses for not conducting local elections. Did PR not consider these before they make their election promises? Or are they merely making empty promises which they never intend or have hope of fulfilling? I find this very disturbing.

Ng Chak Ngoon

racheljansz
4th January 2009, 12:10 PM
Or are they merely making empty promises which they never intend or have hope of fulfilling? I find this very disturbing.

Ng Chak Ngoon
FACT: Pakatan never dream of attaining 4 additional States - Selangor, Perak, Penang, Kedah.

Overall, they has been clumsy in the administration of the 4 New States.
They are still in searching stage (groping in the dark) instead of alignment stage.
Not help by the Federal gomen's restriction of funds or rather non-availability.
Compounded by the mindset of the civil servants and their behavior to 'gomen of the day'

It is still early days, but I wonder how long must the Rakyat wait for them to cleanse Bolehland?

rocky
4th January 2009, 12:45 PM
Whether we like it or not, and with or without elections, we will still have politicians taking up these positions. Anybody who opts to participate in this process is already a politician by definition and practice. Politics is not necessarily a four letter word.
Bob thanks for stating the obvious...duh. There is one major difference in what you stated thou.One is voted in thus some what accountable to the voters, the other is appointed. ;)Yeah they are all politician, but I'd prefer the one that is voted in.

pywong - agree with you that time is running out. But some in PR seem to think by blaming the federal gomen, they can get away with it.Use electoral role or electricity bill or whatever that makes sense. There is no perfect method but electoral role is good start.phantom vote etc is just a freaking excuse.hell they PR formed the gomen based on this same bloody electoral rolls, not toilet roll. :P Doing nothing will screw PR next GE.

sampalee
4th January 2009, 01:37 PM
Empty promises is the halmark of ALL politicians.The better one is at it,the better a politicians one become.If we badly want the one truth that can free us,turn to religions enmasse.

Bob K
4th January 2009, 02:46 PM
Personally, I still would disagree with using ratepayers' rolls as the basis for conducting an opinion poll. Its too elitist (esp. the idea of multiple votes for people who hold multiple title deeds!!??) and its not like we do not have access to the last electoral roll used for the General Elections.

Bob, these are the objections raised by Khalid and Ronnie Liu against local govt elections:
1. Cost.
2. Electoral roll is rife with phantoms.
3. Postal voters
4. Only the SPR is authorised to conduct elections.

It's well and good to object on the basis of elitism. Isn't the present system of appointment by the State Govt elitist?

Do you have a practical proposal to overcome those problems without giving an excuse for the Federal Govt to suspend the State Govt?

Please make a proposal in plain English. Don't just object only. We expect more from you.


Sigh .. this whole "write in plain English" polemic is getting a bit too patronising.

If you'd notice, I have given qualified support for the opinion poll proposal. My only objection to it was the use of ratepayer's rolls as the basis to decided who is qualified to participate.

The current system of indirect elections of local councillor (aka appointments) is still IMHO the lesser of two evils in comparison to a poll tax. I'll be damned before I support a proposal that would see one individual more of a say compared to another by virtue of nett worth and property ownership.

chakngoon.ng
4th January 2009, 03:27 PM
It seems to me that both PY and Bob agree on the need for local council elections. What they dispute over is who should vote in the interim period when election commission is not conducting the elections. While PY proposes that ratepayers shall vote, Bob is in favour of using the last electoral roll used for the General Elections.

If I have to choose between these two proposals, I would prefer Bob's proposal but I would not object if PY's were to be used instead. To me this should not be a point of dispute. I could come up with a third alternative and argue in its favour but that would only add to the confusion. The important point here is how we can get PR to honour its election promise. Alternatively, what can we do about it if it does not?

Ng Chak Ngoon

pywong
4th January 2009, 04:29 PM
Chak Ngoon, I am afraid my difference with Bob is a little more fundamental than that.

My understanding of Bob's position is, since he doesn't get to vote as he is not a rate-payer in MPSJ, nobody else votes.

My position is:
1. The easiest way to move forward is to use the Rate payers roll with MPSJ. BTW, I am a rate-payer but it is not terribly important to me whether I get to vote or not. The basic thing is that this Roll is available and does not have much problem with regards to phantoms.
2. It costs very little to post opinion ballots to the rate payers as MPSJ does it twice a year. If fact, if a decision is made fast, the ballot paper could even be posted along with the next notice of assessment in Feb 09. (Ok, just wishful thinking).
3. The timing is just right to replace the current batch of councillors whose term expire in June 09.
4. This is a very simple test of PR's credibility. If they cannot fulfill such a simple promise, then we should be very wary of their bigger promises.

Bob K
4th January 2009, 05:04 PM
Incidentally, I am a ratepayer in MPSJ as well as MBPJ. That's besides the point. The issue is the principle of suffrage. The current system, while not allowing for the direct election of councillors, is a form of indirect election, similar to the election of our Senate/Dewan Negara. Ultimately, I can still get my ADUN to be accountable for the action/inaction of the State's appointed Councillors.

If a Councillor's position is by virtue of the voting pleasure of a privileged few, the potential for corruption is exacerbated and there will definitely be an imbalance in representation, not much different from the current practice except that this time it has the additional legitimacy of being an "elected" office. Try dismantling that once it has been established as the de-facto practice.

If I were to only have the two options as laid out above, I'd choose the former as the lesser of two evils. Fortunately, it is not an impasse. There are alternative methods apart from these two options. I fail to see why one would adamantly insist on the practice of "voting by privilege" rather than "by right" when other options remain viable.

It would be accurate to surmise that the fundamental difference in opinion between PY and me would be ideological.

Utilitarianism, while appealing as a means of solving an immediate problem, can lead to unexpected consequences. Mahathir's reforms in his 21 years of power remains one of the better examples of the problems of utilitarianism.

pywong
4th January 2009, 05:26 PM
Bob, I am not sure you understand my point:

My proposal is an interim measure until we can change the Federal Laws to allow proper local govt elections. What is so dangerous about that? What is so elitist about that? Elitism is when we have 2000 UMNO delegates select the Prime Minister without reference to the people or even the ordinary members of UMNO.

Implementing now is a demonstration of good faith on the part of PR. Not implementing in for whatever reasons shows bad faith. When PR leaders campaigned on a platform for the third vote and now tries to weasel out of their promise on elected local govt, that is bad faith.

Bob K
4th January 2009, 05:49 PM
So why not use the electoral roll?

The Third Vote Campaign was on the basis that change could be made to federal legislature. I agree that the Pakatan Rakyat state governments can do more to demonstrate their good faith and move this agenda forward. I have, in fact, questioned friends from PAS many years ago as to why the Kelantan state government did not lead by example and go ahead with some form of indirect election of local councilors that better reflected what the people wanted - ie. through a ballot/opinion poll taken among the names from the last used electoral roll. Unfortunately, I failed to get an answer back then.

We did see how when PAS held Terengganu how they removed what they deemed as unfriendly senior civil servants from the various bodies and putting in their own people. The result - a rebellion by the civil service that lost them the state in the following elections; a fact acknowledged by PAS themselves.

Anyway, why the adamant insistence that ratepayers' rolls be used rather than the electoral roll? Surely this is merely an administrative exercise? I have yet to see any compelling rationale as to why the former ought to be preferred. Instead, there has been some insinuations and subtle ad hominems which isn't very well appreciated albeit tolerated.

racheljansz
4th January 2009, 07:26 PM
...questioned friends from PAS many years ago as to why the Kelantan state government did not lead by example and go ahead with some form of indirect election of local councilors that better reflected what the people wanted - ie. through a ballot/opinion poll taken among the names from the last used electoral roll. Unfortunately, I failed to get an answer back then.

We did see how when PAS held Terengganu how they removed what they deemed as unfriendly senior civil servants from the various bodies and putting in their own people. The result - a rebellion by the civil service that lost them the state in the following elections; a fact acknowledged by PAS themselves.There are so many ways to skin the cat.
I don't remember when was the last time election of local councilors was held, but I do remember Penang was better manage than right now!
Orderly, systematically and cleaner.
Roads are smoother!

Pakatan need to take this 1st step to make it happen.
Does it really matters what roll they use?
They can use strawberry roll or biscuit roll for all I care!
Just do it!

Yes there will be 'labor pains' and usual 'teething problems'!
There is no hiding from these problems and Pakatan shouldn't hide this from the Rakyat!
They should and must be able prepare the Rakyat for this.

Right now I don't think we have enough real competent councilors with integrity.
Not enough for one State, let alone four.
Do correct me if I'm wrong here.
But if the Pakatan never start the election we will NEVER know the actual numbers.
Never do, never know!

As to the rebellion by the civil service, Pakatan just have to get closer to the Rakyat, communicate better and get the Rakyat 'buy-in'.

PS
Hmmm..rebellion by the civil service? Could this be the reason why the civil service is so bloated.

rocky
4th January 2009, 09:34 PM
Incidentally, I am a ratepayer in MPSJ as well as MBPJ. That's besides the point. The issue is the principle of suffrage. The current system, while not allowing for the direct election of councillors, is a form of indirect election, similar to the election of our Senate/Dewan Negara. Ultimately, I can still get my ADUN to be accountable for the action/inaction of the State's appointed Councillors.
Ha2. My ADUN has no say in the local council. Last I remember the councillor told of my ADUN.Was the a threat to sue? So how can Hannah Yeoh be accountable or why should she be accountable in the 1st place. The councillors was appointed by the state govt.

The current system sucks and so does the Senate.Looks like the Senate is a role model and a place where BN members get into govt via the back door, more so those rejected by the people or those whose dare not stand for election like Mat Taib. Oh lets compare with the worst systems thus we justify doing the same which means doing nothing. well we have a few NGOs, so this is a little better thus the voters should be happy. Yeah indirect election.I really like the spin on this.

pywong
4th January 2009, 10:40 PM
So why not use the electoral roll?

The Third Vote Campaign was on the basis that change could be made to federal legislature. I agree that the Pakatan Rakyat state governments can do more to demonstrate their good faith and move this agenda forward. I have, in fact, questioned friends from PAS many years ago as to why the Kelantan state government did not lead by example and go ahead with some form of indirect election of local councilors that better reflected what the people wanted - ie. through a ballot/opinion poll taken among the names from the last used electoral roll. Unfortunately, I failed to get an answer back then.

We did see how when PAS held Terengganu how they removed what they deemed as unfriendly senior civil servants from the various bodies and putting in their own people. The result - a rebellion by the civil service that lost them the state in the following elections; a fact acknowledged by PAS themselves.

Anyway, why the adamant insistence that ratepayers' rolls be used rather than the electoral roll? Surely this is merely an administrative exercise? I have yet to see any compelling rationale as to why the former ought to be preferred. Instead, there has been some insinuations and subtle ad hominems which isn't very well appreciated albeit tolerated.


PAS objection to elected local govt: I know their reasons but I am not able to disclose it here. Not something that cannot be overcome when it comes to the crunch.

Bob, did you read the interview with Ronnie Liu here http://tindakmalaysia.com/tm_forums2008/index.php/topic,149.0.html

He has made clear through his behaviour and response that he is not keen on elected local govt and resorting to giving excuses. These are his excuses:
1. Electoral boundaries does not match local council boundaries. This is a real issue that using Rate-payers Roll can overcome.
2. According to existing laws, only the SPR can conduct elections.
3. What happens to a person who owns 5 houses - he gets 5 votes?

During Khalid's interview, http://tindakmalaysia.com/tm_forums2008/index.php/topic,25.msg776.html#msg776,
he said: I think the main reasons for not introducing elections for council members is the costs and administration of the elections.

My proposal of conducting an opinion poll using the Rate-payers Roll address all the above objections.
eg: 5 houses, 5 votes: Obviously the owner will have rented out at least 4 houses and being a businessman, he would have the sense to get his tenants opinion on how to vote. After all, good service by a good councillor will enhance the rentability of his houses.

Cost of election: Posting ballots is the cheapest form of voting exercise available.

Rolls: The Town Council have the rate-payers roll handy so it cost nothing to use it.

So Bob, can you come up with a proposal to overcome Khalid and Ronnie's objections and have local govt elections? And please don't worry about being damned. ;D We promise not to report upstairs.

In any case, I see that we are talking past each other. So let's agree to disagree.

Bob K
5th January 2009, 12:00 PM
Electoral rolls are organised by street names and unit numbers anyway. Its merely an administrative exercise to get the required names matched to the boundaries of the municipality. If we could do it to monitor exit polls (ie. sismep), this is a considerably less taxing exercise technologically.

pywong
5th January 2009, 12:38 PM
Electoral rolls are organised by street names and unit numbers anyway. Its merely an administrative exercise to get the required names matched to the boundaries of the municipality. If we could do it to monitor exit polls (ie. sismep), this is a considerably less taxing exercise technologically.

If you read the interview with Ronnie (http://tindakmalaysia.com/tm_forums2008/index.php/topic,149.0.html), it is clear he is not keen on elected local govt.

1. Cost: Your proposal will involve money.
2. He promised to talk to Ong Ka Chuan in Dec 08 to discuss elected local govt. So far, we have heard nothing.
3. He has appointed a consultant at a cost of RM20k to study the matter of electoral boundaries and local council boundaries. This looks like throwing good money away. Why study if he says he cannot overcome the Federal law? Again, we have not heard anything of this report.

Our proposal on rate-payers rolls is so simple. Cost hardly anything. Can be implemented immediately. Also it can be used to test the sincerity of the PR govt.

By basic premise is still: Just do it!

Bob K
5th January 2009, 01:25 PM
Just do it .. which is precisely my contention about utilitarianism and unintended consequences.

It would make more sense to seek a direct dialogue with our elected representatives on this issue and demand for a road map of implementation - esp. on a more coordinated level involving residents from multiple municipalities. Otherwise its pure speculation and venting on our part.

pywong
5th January 2009, 05:37 PM
Just do it .. which is precisely my contention about utilitarianism and unintended consequences.

It would make more sense to seek a direct dialogue with our elected representatives on this issue and demand for a road map of implementation - esp. on a more coordinated level involving residents from multiple municipalities. Otherwise its pure speculation and venting on our part.

Ok, you organize with Hannah Yeoh.

racheljansz
6th January 2009, 07:29 AM
Thanks to LTH and anilnetto for this timely reminder
Just change it!
http://anilnetto.com/democracy/just-change-it-before-and-after-ge12/

Blog reader LTH shares with us his thoughts about the Pakatan’s apparent lack of enthusiasm regarding local democracy. As recent events have shown, it isn’t impossible to restore local democracy - with or without the Election Commission’s or federal assistance or legal reforms. All that is needed to get the ball rolling is the political will and sincerity to fulfill campaign promises:

During GE12,

* “We will return to the people local council elections!” was part of the PR manifesto;
* And this is how they promised: “Just change it!”

After GE12,

* “There are legal problems to untangle, you know; we can’t just change it!”
* “We’ll need to move the whole SPR machinery over, will cost many millions, I tell you!”
* “We tried in Parliament, you saw us, didn’t you?” (note: knowing full well it was an exercise in futility)

Haha, after 1 January 2009, the Gunung Rapat people have......http://anilnetto.com/democracy/just-change-it-before-and-after-ge12/

The question is: Will PR now bite the bullet and ‘walk the talk’ to show its political will and the coalition’s commitment to really return demorcracy to the people/voters?

pywong
6th January 2009, 08:06 AM
How about a pilot project for MPSJ, MBPJ, MBSA, MPKlang if our Selangor politicians are so nervous about having elected local govt for the whole state.

Perak village head election a step in the right direction

Anil Netto 5 Jan 09
Democracy is here to stay, whether our politicians are ready for it or not.

It was interesting to see the reaction of the Pakatan government in Perak to the election of a village head. They did not seem to be too happy with it.

Congrats to PKR’s Gopeng MP Lee Boon Chye for pushing this through.

And now Selangor might reportedly follow suit with a pilot election for a village head later this year.

http://anilnetto.com/accountability/perak-village-head-election-a-step-in-the-right-direction/

pywong
11th January 2009, 01:47 PM
Having elected village headman in the rural areas is similar to elected local govt in the towns. It is basically the empowerment of the rakyat. That is the best protection against a despotic regime.

The Dayak dilemma
Sim Kwang Yang | Jan 10, 09 1:00pm

Surely one of those pledges must be the restoring of the autonomy of the democratically-elected village chiefs throughout the state. The state government must recognise whoever is elected by the villagers as their headman, and pay them well nevertheless. Empowering the rakyat at the grassroots level would be the most meaningful reform in rural Sarawak indeed.

While PKR chief Anwar Ibrahim has made grand declaration of intent on taking power in the next Sarawak elections, very few Sarawakians themselves would be convinced that it would be an easy venture.

http://malaysiakini.com/news/96175

pywong
30th January 2009, 02:57 PM
This is consistent with Ronnie Liu's behaviour here:
http://tindakmalaysia.com/tm_forums2008/index.php/topic,149.0.html

Dude, where is my third vote?

Josh Hong | Jan 30, 09 2:28pm

We must restore local government elections for the sake of democracy, good governance, rule of law, accountability and transparency. – Lim Guan Eng, speaking to Perak DAP leaders in February 2005.

It was an auspicious start to 2009, when residents of Gunung Rapat New Village, Perak, went to the ballot box to elect their ideal candidate for the post of village chief. The small yet hugely significant election, proposed and sponsored by PKR state assemblymen Chang Lih Kang and Chan Ming Kai, indicates that the true spirit of democracy is still alive despite the controversy that the move had generated among some Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers.

The DAP leaders in Perak had made it clear that any attempt to introduce local elections at this stage was premature.

http://malaysiakini.com/columns/97295

pywong
20th April 2009, 10:40 AM
http://203.115.192.117/monday/mon_page12.html

pywong
6th May 2009, 08:37 AM
If Indonesia can do it, why can't we? What is the mental block that PR is suffering from?

Mayor who’s the people’s chief servant

Posted by admin
Tuesday, 05 May 2009 08:45

With direct elections for all local leaders, ordinary Indonesians now feel they have a greater say over how their respective communities are managed.

By Karim Raslan (The Star)

AS Barisan Nasional belatedly refocuses its attention on the people, the issue of local government will become increasingly important, especially in the urban areas.

To my mind, Malaysian policy-makers would be well advised to see how Indonesia has coped with the same challenges.

The republic has embraced decentralisation whole-heartedly with direct elections for all local leaders whether at the district level – Bupatis and Wali Kotas – or at the Provincial level – Governors. More… (http://mt.m2day.org/2008/content/view/21389/84/)

Bob K
6th May 2009, 04:05 PM
Charles Hector posted (http://charleshector.blogspot.com/2009/05/what-difference-pr-and-bn-democracy.html)a series of interesting and do-able suggestions pending the removal of legal impediments to the implementation of local elections:


Every kampung, new Village and Taman shall have an ELECTED Chairperson & a committee of between 6 - 12, who shall be elected for a 2 year term. There shall be a Deputy Chairperson, Secretary and Treasurer. These committees shall have a meeting at least once a month. Minutes of committee meetings shall be available to all members of the community.



Every State Assembly Constituency area shall have a State Assembly Constitutional Area Committee (SACAC), who shall comprise of all Chairpersons (plus one other) from the various Kampung, Kampung Baru and Tamans in the area. From amongst their members, they shall choose a Coordinating Committee (SACAC-CC) made up of a Chairperson, Deputy Chairperson, Secretary, Assistant Secretary and 5 to 7 committee members. The ADUN for the area shall automatically have the right of attendance and participation at the meetings of the Committee, but no voting rights. State Assembly Constitutional Area Committee(SACAC) shall meet at least once every month, and its minutes shall be made available to all members of community within the area.



Every State Assembly Constitutional Area Coordinating Committee members, within a Parliamentary Constituency shall be members the Parliamentary Area Committee(PAC), which shall be coordinated by a Parliamentary Constituency Coordinating Team (PAC-CT) made up of an elected Chairperson, Deputy Chairperson, Secretary, Assistant Secretary and 5 to 7 committee members.



Parliamentary Area Committee shall also have representatives from minority groups, and these representatives are appointed.



The MP and the ADUNs of the area shall automatically have the right of attendance and participation at the meetings of the Parliamentary Area Committee, but no voting rights.



The Local Council President and at least 5 of its members shall attend all meetings of the Parliamentary Area Committee, but shall not have voting rights.



The Parliamentary Area Committee (and the State Assembly Constitutional Area Committee) can exclude the presence of the ADUN, the MP and the Local Councillors for certain part of its meetings, or for some of its meetings (but not more than 50% of its meeting). The reason for this is that these committees may want to discuss privately matters amongst its members first. Some MPs, ADUNs and Local Councillors may be too dominant and interfering in their manner.



The terms of Parliamentary Area Committee and the State Assembly Constitutional Area Committee is two(2) years.



The Local Council shall be responsible for the provision of meetings rooms, and providing assistance in photocopying, printing...



The Menteri Besar and the State Exco shall meet with the Parliamentary Constituency Coordinating Teams (PAC-CT) at least once every 3 months - and the purpose is primarily to receive complaints and suggestions about mechanisms, MPs, ADUNs, Local Councils, and other State Government/Federal Government agencies that is creating 'problems'.


I find this much more agreeable and do-able than the proposal to use ratepayer rolls. This would be a true exercise in participatory democracy then the mere act of voting.

pywong
29th June 2009, 09:03 AM
The honeymoon is over!

Posted by admin
Sunday, 28 June 2009 14:39

THOMAS LEE

I believe it is time the Rakatan Rakyat Selangor state government do something about the 'sulit culture'. The coalition government is supposed to be a transparent, accountable and responsible administration but after a year nothing much seems to have changed.

Even one councillor has allegedly threatened to ask a local council to use the OSA on those who reveal official documents concerning the people's well-being.

Meanwhile, when questionable deals are exposed, the state executive councillor responsible for local councils, Ronnie Liu, cannot be reached for comments. There is a deafening silence.

If the Pakatan Rakyat state government continues the 'sulit culture' of the previous Barisan Nasional state administration and fails to be transparent, accountable and responsible, then many of its supporters will be put off and the next general election will not be smooth going for the Pakatan Rakyat.

Many of the blunders that reflect badly on the Pakatan Rakyat can be attributed to the appointed councillors showing off, abusing their position and power, threatening the people with OSA charges, and talking nonsense. Some are plain publicity crazy, while a few have been tainted by allegation of corruption. Such people should not be reappointed.

In view of the fact that direct election to the local authorities is not legally possible now, the Pakatan Rakyat should consider a sort of indirect election, in which those selected as councillors are nominees of the community, i.e. officials of residents associations, representatives of traders and hawkers, and those recommended by the professional bodies.
http://mt.m2day.org/2008/content/view/23675/84/

pywong
16th July 2009, 11:14 AM
The Star, 15 July 2009

Stumbling blocks to municipal polls

Reflecting on the Law

By SHAD SALEEM FARUQI

Local authority elections provide a suitable laboratory for testing the principles of accountability, openness and transparency in government. However, there are insurmountable legal hurdles.

EARLIER, it was Penang, and now Selangor is exploring the possibility of having local authority elections. Commendable though this plan is, there are two insurmountable legal hurdles.

Firstly, local government elections, last held in 1969, were abolished by Section 15C of the Local Government Act 1976 and only the Federal Government can restore them. Secondly, there is a federal emergency law that puts the final nail in the coffin of democratic elections at municipal level.

The legal position today is that local authority councillors, or presidents are appointed by state governments.

The State approves budgets; permits loans; has discretion over the dismissal of departmental heads, deputies, mayors, presidents and councillors.

It confirms by-laws and may delay revaluation.

If the mayor or president does not agree with the other councillors to the exercise of powers of the local authority, he shall refer the matter to the Mentri Besar or Chief Minister of the State, whose decision thereon shall be final and binding.

Despite this law, if any state government still wishes to promote democracy at the third tier of our government, then one indirect way would be to shortlist a number of respected individuals from NGOs and representative groups; and hold a referendum or a public opinion poll on which individuals are most acceptable as local authority councillors.

At the moment no law permits or forbids a referendum.

Once the results of the referendum are known, then in accordance with the Local Government Act, the state government can “appoint” as councillors those chosen by the rakyat.

To further improve the democratic legitimacy of local authorities, a number of other democratic measures could be adopted to improve openness, accountability and integrity. They include:

> Enforce of section 23 of the Local Government Act 1976. The Act states that “all meetings of the local authority shall be open to the public and to the press unless the local authority by resolution at the meeting otherwise decides”. Unfortunately many local councils resolve to exclude the public from their meetings.

Other councils seek to defeat the law by holding closed-door pre-council meetings prior to full board meetings. At the full board meeting, councillors then agree to all decisions made earlier by the various committees behind closed doors!

To facilitate public participation, council meetings should be advertised and ratepayers should have the right to know in advance what is on the agenda. The public and the press should not be excluded from council meetings, except when clearly defined “exempted information” is being discussed.

> Encourage consultative processes. As the influence of elected officials is absent in the management of local government, it is imperative that consultation with affected interests be encouraged. The law is supportive of such popular participation in several areas. For example under section 142, citizens aggrieved by a valuation have a right to make objections in writing and are allowed an opportunity of being heard at the subsequent enquiry.

Under the Federal Territory Planning Act 1982, public participation in
development plans is provided for. Draft structure plans have to be published in the Gazette and local newspapers.

Anyone who has objections to the plans has a right to be heard.

In fact, citizen involvement must be encouraged and facilitated at all stages of the administrative process — issue identification, agenda setting, policy formulation, policy adoption, and policy evaluation.

On most local government issues, the role of citizens’ groups is discernible only at the last stage i.e. policy evaluation. The overall decision-making model is elitist, not pluralist.

> Meeting the people. Presidents/mayors and their councils should have monthly meet-the-people sessions during which questions should be answered, information supplied and policies justified. In the past, Penang experimented with regular meetings between citizens and councillors.

> Fiscal responsibility. The financial accountability of local authorities needs to be improved. To achieve this end, a Local Government (Access to Information) Act on the lines of the 1992 British legislation of the same name needs to be enacted to enable the rate-payers to obtain more information on local authority finances.

The Annual Reports of local authorities along with their audited accounts should be made available to the public as is the practice in many other bodies corporate.

> Assets disclosure. “Sunshine laws” should be enacted to require all councillors to disclose their assets to the public. The law in sections 34 and 38 of the Local Government Act against vested interest by councillors should be strengthened by maintaining a Councillors’ Private Interest Register on which all councillors should be required to enter any direct personal or pecuniary interest in council projects.

> Judicial control. Judicial review of local government expenditure should be strengthened by adoption of the concept that a local authority is a trustee of the ratepayers’ money. Under this principle, courts can intervene to invalidate schemes and decision if they involve unwise, uneconomic or excessive use of the ratepayers’ money: Roberts v Hopwood [1925] AC 578; Prescott v Birmingham [1955] 1 Ch. 210; Bromley LBC v GLC [1982] 2 WLR 62.

> Maladministration. A Local Government Ombudsman should be created to investigate maladministration in local authorities. At present it is constitutionally problematic for the federal Public Complaints Bureau to investigate local authorities that are under the direct control of opposition state governments.

> Law enforcement. The enforcement of the Local Government Act, Town and Country Planning Act and Streets and Drainage Act should be improved. As long as the enforcement of the law remains exclusively in the hands of officers of the State, or the Attorney-General’s office, many wrongdoers will continue to go scot-free.

The legal system must, therefore, seek to free law enforcement from the exclusive clutches of administrators. Civic-minded citizens who go to the court to enforce public rights or prevent public wrongs should be treated as public benefactors and not busybodies.

Citizens’ groups should be allowed to bring “class actions” against violators of the law.

The scope of the judicial order of Mandamus should be enlarged to enable citizens to compel public authorities to enforce the law.

The rules of locus standi should be suitably relaxed to throw open the judicial door to public-spirited citizens wishing to prevent a breach of the law by a private citizen or a public authority.

In Malaysia in the decades since independence, the primary emphasis was on efforts to achieve security, stability and economic prosperity. These goals have been commendably achieved or are on the way to achievement.

The new challenge is to improve accountability.

There is evidence that people’s expectations in this area have been aroused.

The third tier of government provides a suitable laboratory for testing the principles of accountability, openness and transparency in government.

Professor Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi is Emeritus Professor of Law at UiTM and Visiting Professor at USM. The Star.... (http://thestar.com.my/columnists/story.asp?file=/2009/7/15/columnists/reflectingonthelaw/4317702&sec=reflectingonthelaw)

pywong
20th November 2009, 08:39 AM
The Constitution: Your rights are all there
SPECIAL REPORTS

Wednesday, 18 November 2009 adminK

“The Constitution must be higher than the executive and administrative laws,” he said, urging all Malaysians to respect the social contract that had been agreed to and to compromise where it helps and where it hurts.

By Honeymah Dylyani, Malaysian Mirror

FEATURE LAWYER Sulaiman Abdullah, a native of Penang, recalled that there were, at one time, polls to elect the city mayor other councilors in the state.

What is the Constitution?

“The Constitution is the basic document that guarantees the rights of the people,” said Sulaiman, pledging he would defend it.

His reference to local elections is pertinent and consistent with calls by various quarters to revive such elections, which were suspended after the Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation in 1964.

The suspension was never lifted and the matter instead was made permanent under the Local Government Act 1976, which stipulates that local government members be appointed by the respective state governments.

In the March 2008 general elections, the DAP and the PKR included in their manifesto that local elections would be revived if they were to chosen to lead the country. Malaysiatoday.... (http://malaysia-today.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=28585:the-constitution-your-rights-are-all-there-&catid=21:special-reports&Itemid=100135)

imported_dwjshun
27th December 2009, 04:28 PM
PY Wong:



Ronnie Liu commissioned The Coalition for Good Governance to prepare a paper on "Bring Back Local Government Elections" as attached. The paper very clearly advocates the reinstatement of local govt elections. We wonder what is the State Govt's stand on the paper. We have demonstrated at the beginning of this thread how it can be done. The only issue that we can see is: Does the State Govt have the will to get it done?

pywong
29th December 2009, 06:59 PM
Wong Chin Huat: PR's spin on local elections. (http://tindakmalaysia.com/tm_forums2008/index.php/topic,1325.msg5650.html#msg5650)

pywong
24th March 2010, 12:36 AM
18 months after our proposal to the Selangor Govt, the State Govts in Penang and Selangor talk about local govt elections. How can one avoid the impression that they are playing football with Najib and playing for time?

Third vote must represent all races, say PAS. (http://www.malaysia-today.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=30770:third-vote-must-represent-all-races-say-pas&catid=19:newscommentaries&Itemid=100131)

And the EC's response: Tak nak. (http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/index.php/malaysia/57264-ec-rules-no-go-for-third-vote)

pywong
24th May 2010, 12:34 AM
How about letting rate-payers of Subang Jaya have a say in the appointment of their local councillors? May 21, 2010. (http://harismibrahim.wordpress.com/2010/05/21/how-about-letting-rate-payers-of-subang-jaya-have-a-say-in-the-appointment-of-their-local-councillors/)

sampalee
25th May 2010, 09:38 PM
It is no point talking about when we should have a full loave of bread.Let start with half a loaf,before every one die while waiting.PR are too stupid to innovate and improvise and feel that men must be driven by law and no other way.They simply cannot think outside the box and it is best we retire them.

pywong
12th September 2012, 06:42 PM
Local polls: The court may have to decide (http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2012/09/12/local-polls-the-court-may-have-to-decide/)


Teoh El Sen (http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/author/elsen/) September 12, 2012

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has written to the EC again to conduct local elections for the state before the issue is taken to court.
http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/guan-eng-penang.jpg (http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2012/08/16/pakatan-will-retain-penang-but/attachment/guan-eng-penang/)PETALING JAYA: The Election Commission (EC) has again been asked, possibly for the last time, before the issue is brought to the courts, to conduct local government elections in the DAP-helmed Pakatan Rakyat state of Penang.


Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng last week sent a letter to the EC chairman Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof, reminding the official election body that it was now ‘empowered’ to run the third vote for Penang and Seberang Perai municipal councils.


In the letter, dated Aug 30, Lim said that the Penang Local Government Elections (Penang Island and Province Wellesley) Enactment 2012 was passed in May and has been been gazetted since July 5.


Lim also drew the attention of the EC chief to Article 113(4) of the Federal Constitution, which states states:” Federal or State law may authorize the Election Commission to conduct elections…”


“Therefore, the Penang state government requests the EC to run the election for local government authories for Majlis Perbandaran Pulau Pinang and Majlis Perbandaran Seberang Perai,” said Lim.


In a press conference in Penang today, Penang exco (Local government and traffic management committee) Chow Kon Yeow said that Lim’s letter was the last step in the state government’s “roadmap to local elections”.


The Padang Kota assemblyman said they expect an answer from the EC within a week or two. And if the EC does not respond positively, the next step, Chow said, will be for the state to ask the courts to decide on the matter.


“If the EC says they do not want to hold this election, despite being empowered by the Federal Constitution, our next step is to bring it to the court for judicial pronouncement,” he said.


“We want the court to declare the state enactment as a good law, and not ultra vires to the constitution. Secondly, we will ask the courts to then direct the EC to conduct the elections,” he said.


Attempts by FMT to get a response from Abdul Aziz failed. However, EC public relations officer Sabri Said told FMT that it was unlikely that the EC will make any drastic change in its previous stand not to hold state elections that the Pakatan Rakyat states are trying to revive.


BN, EC not in favour


Local polls were suspended in 1965 after the Indonesian Confrontation. It has been reported that despite a promise by then prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman to revive them, this did not take place. When the Local Government Act 1976 (LGA) was gazetted, all provisions relating to local government elections became null and void via Section 15 of the Act.


However, the Penang government had in February issued a gazette notification exempting local authorities from section 15 of the LGA.


On May 9, the Penang Legislative Assembly unanimously passed the Local Government Elections (Penang Island and Province Wellesley) Enactment 2012.


The revival of Penang’s local state government elections have been described by Lim as DAP’s ‘delivery as promised’, as it was a huge part of the opposition’s campaign in 2008 general election.


Repeatedly, both the Barisan Nasional federal government and the EC have rejected the proposal by Pakatan states to have local elections.


Abdul Aziz had previously said that state governments can conduct local government elections if they so wish, but the EC will not be involved as there were no enabling law for the EC to run such elections.


Minister of Housing and Local Government Chor Chee Heung had informed Parliament that local elections were a waste of money and manpower.


Attorney-General’s Chambers also found that the Penang enactment was not valid because Section 15 of the LGA which states that laws on local government elections shall cease to have force of effect, overlaps the Local Government Elections Act 1960.

pywong
6th January 2013, 07:36 PM
Still playing ping-pong.

Local council elections: Where does the buck stop? (http://anilnetto.com/governance/accountability/local-council-elections-where-does-the-buck-stop/)


Posted by Anil Netto (http://anilnetto.com/author/anilnetto/) on 6 January 2013 Add comments (http://anilnetto.com/governance/accountability/local-council-elections-where-does-the-buck-stop/#respond)



So we still can’t have local council elections – due to a “technicality”. What exactly is holding back the restoration of the third vote?

Reading the Malaysian Insider report below, I am left confused. Exactly what or who is holding back local council elections?

The law has been passed and is due to be enforced – but that is not enough for the Election Commission, so it passes the buck. It wants the enforcement date gazetted.

It reminds me of a party game, where the package is passed from one person to another until the music stops – except in this case there is no music at all, only the clamour for local elections.

What will it take to restore local elections to the people as soon as possible? Who is the mysterious person (or parties) holding it back?

See what you make of the report below:

Penang forced to hold off on third vote due to technicality

By Opalyn MokJanuary 04, 2013

Lim said the matter was now in the hands of the state legal advisor. — File pic

GEORGE TOWN, Jan 4 ― Penang will delay the implementation of its Local Government Elections Enactment after the Elections Commission (EC) asked for the enforcement date to be gazetted.

The state government earlier wrote to the EC informing it that the law will be enforced on January 31, and requested that the EC conduct the local elections within 180 days of the enforcement date.

Local government and traffic management executive councillor Chow Kon Yeow said the EC replied by requesting the state government gazette the enforcement date in order for it to proceed.

Prior to this, Penang had written to the EC in August, after the Act was gazetted, for the local elections to be held, during which the EC had requested that the state set an enforcement date.

“This was brought up at the state exco meeting but the state legal advisor was not present at that time to provide legal recourse,” he said in a press conference after the re-appointment ceremony of Penang Island Municipal Councillors.

Chow said this meant the announced enforcement date of the Act, January 31, will have to be dropped for another, as it may take time to settle the issue of gazetting the enforcement date.

“This is now in the legal advisor’s hands and we will leave it to her to handle it; there’s nothing we can do about it now,” said Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who was also present.

The Pakatan Rakyat state government has been trying to return to the public the power to choose their local councillors since it took office in 2008.

On August 11, 2009, the state assembly approved a motion to request the federal government to revive local government elections and had sought advice from lawyers on the rights and powers of the state administration to hold local elections.

On March 4, 2010, Lim wrote to the EC requesting it conduct the local elections as provided in the Federal Constitution, but the EC rejected the state’s request.

Last year, the state government finally passed the Penang Local Government Elections Enactment in order to use the law to compel the EC to hold the local elections.

Chow had earlier said the state government could not conduct the local elections and that only the EC will be able to conduct it.

Currently, all local government councillors are appointed under the Local Government Act 1976.
Local council elections were abolished in 1964.