All Pakatan states should hold local polls

Athi Shankar
| May 11, 2012

If all Pakatan states held local polls, it will force the federal government to amend the Local Government Act (LGA) 1976 to allow the third vote, says an academic.

GEORGE TOWN: All Pakatan Rakyat-ruled states should hold local government elections to prove that the coalition is serious about political reforms and transformation.

Political commentator Sivamurugan Pandian from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) insisted that Pakatan states should hold respective local polls before the next general election.
He said by holding council elections in its states, Pakatan could prove that it had fulfilled its 2008 general election promise.

He was commenting on the enactment of the Local Government Elections (Penang Island and Province Wellesley) Enactment 2012 in the Penang Legislative Assembly on Wednesday.
Hence, barring any legal challenges from the Barisan Nasional federal government or the Election Commission (EC), local government elections must be held in Penang within 180 days from the day of the enactment, which was passed unanimously.

State executive councillor in charge of local government and traffic management affairs, Padang Kota assemblyman Chow Kon Yeow, said that the state government would attempt to obtain a pre-emptive court declaration that the enactment was not ultra vires of the Federal Constitution to compel the EC to conduct the local polls.

Sivamurugan hoped that Pakatan states of Selangor, Kedah and Kelantan would emulate Penang by enacting a similar law to hold the municipality polls.

He wondered why other Pakatan states had not been so enthusiastic to hold local polls.

“Why has Kelantan never bothered to have the third vote despite being in power since 1990?

“Are Kedah and Selangor comfortable with the autonomy to appoint their proxies in local councils?” asked the deputy dean of USM’s school of social sciences.

It will apply pressure on federal govt

He suggested that if all Pakatan states held local polls, it would force the federal government to amend the Local Government Act (LGA) 1976 to allow the third vote.

The federal government suspended the local government polls since 1965 during the Indonesian Confrontation.

Despite previous attempts by the DAP-helmed state government to restore the third vote, the EC had snubbed them by pointing to Section 15 of LGA76, which prohibited local government elections.

Sivamurugan questioned why it took more than four years for the Pakatan state government to enact a law to hold local polls when many Penangites demanded it to be implemented much earlier.

“DAP and Pakatan have to convince voters that it was not just another pre-election gimmick,” he said.

He, however, welcomed the state government’s initiative to allow the people to take part actively in local democracy.

“Hope we can have a vibrant local government elections for local residents to choose their local councillors,” he said.