[OPINION] PH can restore local council elections in 100 days, says lawyer
Free Malaysia Today
June 12, 2018
An expert on local government says Pakatan Harapan (PH) can amend the law to restore local council elections in the country within the new administration’s 100 days in power.
Senior lawyer Derek Fernandez said amendments could be made to the Local Government Act.
“We have had council elections in the 1950s but they were suspended in the 1960s.
“The government just needs to restore the Section 10 provision to what it used to be, by tabling a bill to amend the law, to make way for elections to be held for the posts of mayor and councillors,” he said, adding that the amendment could be done in the next Dewan Rakyat sitting which will begin on July 16.
He said once the Local Government Act had been amended, other states would follow suit and hold local elections.
Fernandez believed that Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin was referring to having local elections in all states when she mentioned that it would take three years.
States governed by PH, like Penang and Selangor, are expected to hold local elections earlier.
“Other states may take up to three years because of the technical requirement and political time frame.
“Penang and Selangor can hold local council elections straight away. Penang had even passed an enactment for council elections in 2012 but it was held back by a court ruling while Selangor has been championing for the people to choose their local councils since Pakatan Rakyat won the state,” Fernandez said.
Zuraida had said council elections might be implemented in three years, adding that the time frame was needed to give priority to other important matters such as ensuring the country was in a stable financial position.
She also said it was up to the state governments whether they wanted to hold local elections.
In 2014, the Federal Court ruled that the DAP-led Penang government did not have the jurisdiction to conduct local government elections as they had to abide by the Local Government Act.
Expert Opinion: Local Council Elections
[ADVOCACY] Local elections for Penang, PJ, KL should be held by 2019
New Strait Times
June 12, 2018
The government must hold local council elections in Petaling Jaya (PJ), Penang and Kuala Lumpur (KL) for mayors and councillors by June and Dec next year.
This was the roadmap that a group of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) - made up of Petaling Jaya Coalition (MyPJ), Penang Forum Coalition, and Save Kuala Lumpur (SKL) - sought from the Housing and Local Government Ministry for the implementation of local council elections.
The NGOs also urged for the minister Zuraida Kamaruddin to implement election of council presidents and councillors for the rest of Malaysia within the three-year time frame promised by her.
The proposed roadmap for implementing local council elections was unveiled in a press conference by the NGOs’ representatives at the Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) here this afternoon.
Welcoming the promise by Zuraida, SKL vice-chairman Datuk M. Ali said that this is in line with aspirations to institutionalise public participation, strengthen democracy and fulfill the people’s expectation of a new Malaysia post 14th General Election (GE14).
“In the interim period before the elections, we advocate the following steps to be taken and among them are to establish a working group of experts and civil society immediately to plan the execution of mayoral elections by June 2019 and city council elections (both elections in PJ, Penang, and KL) by Dec 2019,” he said.
He added that other steps that the government can take are to ensure one-third of councillors’ positions are reserved for civil society and community representatives as well as ensure transparency in the process of appointing councillors, and ensure local government carry out public education in support of local elections.
“Local council elections will strengthen the rule of law in all the three layers of government,” he said.
He said this is especially important as he claimed that during the Barisan Nasional (BN) administration, the people’s representation in local councils (via civil society and community representatives) in PH-ruled Penang and Selangor were hijacked by political parties.
Among those present at the press conference today were MyPJ chairman Jeffrey FK Phang, his assistant secretary Esham Salam and SKL chairman Tan Sri Dr Abdul Aziz A. Rahman.
On May 26, Zuraida reportedly said that local council elections could be held in three years' time.
She elaborated yesterday that the three-year period is not too long as the government needed to study all the working papers and existing laws before such elections could be carried out.
UPDATE: Advocacy by NGO groups
Zuraida promises mayoral elections once economy stabilises
May 26, 2018
The Pakatan Harapan government will start holding elections for city mayors and local council presidents as soon as the country's economy is stabilised, Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin announced today.
Even so, she told reporters the ministry would study the matter in six months time, but estimates the elections could be held within three years.