Thursday, April 01, 2010

Putrajaya says third vote will cause racial imbalance

The Najib administration rejects the proposal to hold local government elections as it will cause a racial imbalance, Deputy Minister Of Housing and Local Government Datuk Seri Lajim Ukin said today.

He reiterated that the government had considered all social and economic factors before rejecting appeals from the Pakatan Rakyat governments of Penang and Selangor to restore the third vote.

“Most non-Muslims live in the cities while the Bumiputras are in the outskirts. There will be an imbalance in racial representation in local governments, if elections are held,” Lajim told reporters in Parliament today, adding there was also financial and manpower considerations to reject such elections.

He added the current system was adequate and did not hinder democracy because the public could vote every five years for their MPs and state lawmakers.

Earlier last months the Penang, followed by the Selangor government had asked the Election Commission (EC) to restore local elections, which had been suspended in 1965.

Restoring the third vote, was a Pakatan Rakyat (PR) election promise prior to the last general elections but the idea had been shot down by the EC, which said laws to hold such elections had already been abolished.

Lajim added state governments had the authority to select councillors and could appoint those who they feel can represent the public in local governments.

“The Penang, Selangor and Kedah PR state governments can appoint who they wish.”

EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof had explained that Article 113 (4) and Local Government Election Act 1960 were no longer valid due to section 15 (1) of Act 171 in the Local Government Act 1976.

“Act 473 (Local Government Election Act 1960) gives EC the authority to conduct local government elections. However, the EC does not have the power to enforce Act 473 because section 15 (1) of Act 171 which states that all provisions under Act 473 has been abolished.

“According to section 15 (1) and 10 in Act 171, it is clear that EC does not have the authority to conduct local government elections because the members of the local government must be determined by appointment,” he said.

However, Abdul Aziz said that while the local government is under the jurisdiction of the state, any amendments to the policy must be decided by the National Council for Local Government (MNKT).

“Based on Article 95A of the federal constitution, amendments to the policies in relation to holding local government elections must be decided by the National Council for Local Government,” he said.

He said that if MNKT does decide to hold local government elections then section 10 and 15 of Act 171 must be amended and all amendments must be accepted by all states to ensure uniformity.

“Until the necessary action is taken then EC cannot enforce Act 473 to hold local government elections for Penang and Selangor,” he said.

Local government elections were first held in 1951 before Merdeka but abolished during the Confrontation with Indonesia, which objected to the 1963 formation of Malaysia.

The then-Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman promised they would be restored after the situation improved.

The federal government under Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had in 2007 turned down a demand by the DAP to restore local elections.

Since the suspension of local elections, council seats have become a political reward to loyalists of the ruling party.

courtesy of Malaysian Insider

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