Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Statement by the Opposition Leader of Selangor State Assembly on local government election needs to be corrected

I refer to a media report published by MySinChew.com entitled "Selangor told not to pursue local government elections “published on 2 July 2013 on URL http://www.mysinchew.com/node/88259 as quoted below:
“Selangor opposition leader Datuk Mohd Shamsudin Lias has asked the Selangor government not to pursue the local government election as it would change the system of government into three entities - federal, state and local governments.
He said the basis and rationale of the local government election needed to be studied thoroughly, not merely to make changes for the sake of democracy.
"It should bring more benefits than harm to the people," he told reporters at the State Assembly here today.
He said it would also be a sheer waste of public fund if the local government election would eventually be to the detriment of the public and the democratic system.”
I regret that I do not agree with the reasons presented by the newly elected Opposition Leader because the election of council members is not something new but it had been implemented before in Malaysia and Malaya.

I am also of the opinion that the arguments presented by the Opposition Leader were rather weak. The Opposition Leader should not be ignorant of the historical facts because the local government elections were part of Malaya independence’s history where the British colonial government used local government elections as a platform to pathway for the independence of Malaya.

In addition, it is wrong for the Opposition Leader to argue as if Pakatan Rakyat would split the present government system of Malaysia into three levels, namely, federal, state and local government.

I wish to illustrate here that it is indeed true that there are three levels in the government system of Malaysia in which the lowest level is the local government.

According to the "Report of the Royal Commission of Enquiry into the Working of Local Governments in West Malaysia" headed by Athi Nahappan, the local government is functional in Penang since 1801 through a body called Majlis Penilai (Council of Assessors). Other local councils were then formed in Malacca, followed by other Malay states up to Sarawak and North Borneo.

For public information, the British has not only established the local government in Malaya, Sarawak and North Borneo, but the British rulers have also introduced various legislations such as the Local Government Elections Ordinance 1950 which empowers the local councils to organize elections. Towards the end of the British colonial era, there were a total of 289 local councils in Malaya.

If the local government elections can be done in the past, why not now?

Hopefully this article will be able to address any confusion that may arise as a result of the arguments presented by the Opposition Leader of the Selangor State Assembly.

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