Wednesday, March 10, 2010

NGOs slam Najib over 'no to local polls' remark

A coalition of 49 NGOs have expressed shock and dismay at Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's pronouncement that local government elections were unnecessary.

"His statement shows that he did not understand what is meant by local democracy.

It is unfortunate that the prime minisiter associates local councils with only delivery of services," said the coalition, dubbed the Coalition for Good Governance (CGG).

CGG was responding to Najib's opinion yesterday that local elections were unnecessary because aspiring local government representatives would be too busy 'politicking'.

He said instead, local governments should focus on improving their delivery system.

In a statement today, coalition chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah said a study on local governments in 2006 has shown that the current system of appointing local government representatives from political parties, were not accountable.

As examples of unaccountable local government behaviour, Maria Chin cites the auditor-general report which questioned the Selayang Municipal Council's decision to go on a study tour to Mauritius in 2006.

Citing another instance, she said the Kuala Lumpur City Hall had spent RM94,000 on a grooming and etiquette course for its staff the same year.

"As (local government) councillors were politically appointed, there is a false perception that they do not need to be accountable to the rakyat's needs. Their loyalty is to their own political parties as that will help (them) to retain their seats," said Maria Chin.

She said restoring local government elections was an important step in ensuring accountability and transparency in local governments and praised the Penang and Selangor government for proposing to do so.

Maria Chin said the CGG also urged other state governments to follow the footsteps of the Penang and Selangor government.

courtesy of Malaysiakini

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