Lim Guan Eng (Ballot box image by Miguel Angel Salinas / Dreamstime)
PETALING JAYA, 9 June 2009: Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng needs to make local council elections a priority as promised by his elections manifesto, Suaram Penang said today.
“The process in which the Penang state government appoints its local councillors now is problematic. The people don’t have a say,” Suaram Penang co-ordinator Shushi Lau said.
Lau noted in a statement that the boycott of new Majlis Perbandaran Seberang Perai (MPSP) council president was clear evidence that the current appointment system was flawed.
On 4 June, eight of nine PKR councillors refused to attend the swearing-in ceremony of new MPSP president Mokhtar Mohd Jait. The boycott was held to protest the appointment of a civil servant to head MPSP.
According to the PKR whip Johari Kassim, it had been previously agreed that a PKR politician would be at the council’s helm.
Following the boycott, Lim and other DAP state leaders called for Johari’s resignation.
“With this issue, it seems as if PKR and DAP are competing to strengthen their own party’s power,” Lau told The Nut Graph in a phone interview.
“It isn’t benefiting the people,” Lau added, expressing disappointment.
Lau explained that Suaram Penang and other groups have been petitioning the Penang government to restore local council elections since the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) coalition won the state in a landslide victory.
“When he was sworn in, restoring local council elections was one of (chief minister Lim)’s promises,” Lau said.
Local council elections, the so-called “third vote”, were suspended throughout Malaysia in the 1960s by the Barisan Nasional government.
Short of local council polls, Lau noted that the state could institutionalise alternatives, such as putting in place a process where candidates for the council have their credentials publicly scrutinised.
“We have made this suggestion before,” Lau said, revealing that the Penang government had appointed a working group to study the matter of local council elections.
However, little action has been taken since.
“The state government has to work harder. Local government is very important,” Lau said.
Lau said that the Penang government’s failure to address issues, such as local council elections and the declaration of its politician’s assets, made the state’s policy of competency, accountability and transparency (CAT) “merely a slogan”.
CAT is one of the best lip services in Penang … hahaha.
With so much of projects money going through local councils hands, it’s best to leave with civil servants (neutral). Otherwise all the cronies who offer themselves to local council elections would not know what to do with all that money … squander them perhaps?
Thomas Lee says
I firmly believe that political appointments to the local councils should be limited to just three from each of the coalition partners — DAP, PAS and PKR.
The other councillors should be selected based on an indirect election system since local council elections are not allowed by law currently.
The indirect election involves each community making nominations of people they want to be their councillors. The residents associations, the NGOs or special interest groups should hold elections within their groups to select the nominees to the council.
The state executive council is then obliged to appoint these nominees “elected” by the respective groups.
In this way, those made councillors can be said to be real people’s representatives.
The current practice is to use the councillor posts as rewards for the grassroots warlords, which is why there is trouble in the local councils.
On the eight rebelious councillors from the PKR, especially their leader, the state executive council should use its power to sack them. They are not really interested in representing the people, but more concerned about power and positions. The PKR people are still practising the Umno culture of cronyism and patronage.
I am sure that they will also fight for state awards. The DAP practice of giving civil awards only to those who have retired from their leadership positions or professions is the best policy to adopt. It is simply silly to give civil awards to grassroots politicians who have actually nothing to show except their small-time positions in their party.
How about the federal government? It has the resources to implement local elections. Suaram didn’t say anything about that.
BN never promised local elections, never ever. Because they don’t want to get smacked.
On the other hand, LGE promised local elections because he wants to gain popular support.
This is typical of politicians. Lim Guan Eng is CM. I feel he has the right to appoint anyone he sees fit. If he is wrong then he will answer for it. Who … is PKR to say it was agreed [it would] be a PKR position?
As for Lim, he has made too many promises that [he] can’t keep like local elections.
[The] bottom line is they are all politicians …. Look at Lim making statements about freedom of the press and then he bans [NST] … from Penang government functions … That is only one of the many examples of how politicians from both sides work. We the rakyat are doomed!