Third vote vow dominates Selangor DAP meet

By Adib Zalkapli (Malaysian Insider)
SHAH ALAM, Dec 20 — The Selangor DAP annual convention ended with delegates wondering if the party is still committed to restoring local government elections — a promise it made during Election 2008 campaign.
Some delegates wanted Pakatan Rakyat-led governments, especially in Selangor, to hold the third vote immediately without waiting for the green light from the federal government.
DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, who opened the convention, made it clear that the party wanted the federal government to clear the hurdles first by amending the Local Government Act.
“If we do it on our own, not only [do] we have to bear the legal cost, if it is challenged, we also won’t get participation from Barisan Nasional, and we will end up having only Pakatan leaders contesting and their supporters voting,” said Selangor DAP committee member Ronnie Liu, who is also the state executive councillor in charge of local authorities.
Local council elections were suspended in the 1960s and since then, all councillors are appointed by the state government.
“We want to continue putting pressure on the federal government and to remind them it is their obligation to lift the suspension of local elections,” Liu told The Malaysian Insider.
But state DAP vice-chairman Charles Santiago believed that the state government should try to work out a mechanism to introduce local votes to prove its commitment.
“For most people in Klang, for example, their government is not in Putrajaya or even Shah Alam, but the local council,” said Santiago who personally set a target that the Selangor government holds the local council elections by the end of 2010.
“Of course, the state must continue to get [the] federal government to restore the elections, but it must also work out a mechanism to show that we are serious. Even if it works against us, so be it,” said the Klang MP.
The commitment to restore local government elections became a contentious issue after the Pakatan Rakyat common policy framework launched yesterday backtracked from the promise, following opposition from PAS leaders.
The policy framework only made the promise “to strengthen local government democracy” in an attempt to appease leaders who are opposed to the third vote.