BERSIH urges PM Najib Razak to emulate Lim Guan Eng on Local Government Elections

6 March 2010
The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH) urges Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to match Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s latest reform move: local government elections.
BERSIH praises the Penang Pakatan Rakyat State Government and Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng for authorizing the Election Commission (EC) to conduct local government elections for Majlis Perbandaran Pulau Pinang (MPPP) and Majlis Perbandaran Seberang Prai (MPSP), as provided for by Article 113(4) of the Federal Constitution. It is the best present for Penangites and Malaysians on the 2nd anniversary of the 8 March 2008 political tsunami.
Local elections were suspended by the Alliance Government in 1965 under the pretext of national security. It was never reinstated despite the initial promise and the recommendations of the 1968 Athi Nahappan Report. Since 1976, local governments have been appointed by state governments, a testimony of the Alliance/Barisan Nasional’s broken promise.
BERSIH urges the Election Commission to carry out its constitutional duty and immediately respond to the request of the Penang State Government to execute local elections.
Local elections are demanded by not only the Penangites, but Malaysians in other states who have endured incompetence, inefficiency, lack of accountability, mismanagement and corruption under those who were appointed by unchecked local authorities.
Najib’s Federal Government therefore has a historical duty to fulfill the 1965 promise by mapping out a nationwide local election plan. This is part of the new political reality of “post-8 March” Malaysia. Najib’s
Government Transformation
Programme will ring hollow if he insists on preserving corruption and the inherent flaws of appointed local councils.
It is important to point out that Najib has so far not promised any significant reform in democratization. It speaks volumes about UMNO’s reluctance and unwillingness to reform. It would be a shame if the Prime Minister cannot even match up to a Chief Minister in this area, even though he talks at length about KPIs and NKRAs.
UMNO, Gerakan and MCA Penang, as responsible opposition parties in the state, should take a principled stand and back CM Lim’s move and lobby PM Najib to embrace local elections as part of Barisan Nasional’s reform plan.
BERSIH also calls upon the other Pakatan Rakyat state governments to follow in the footsteps of Penang. Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, Kelantan Menteri Besar Tok Guru Nik Aziz Nik Mat and Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Azizan should also authorize the Election Commission to conduct local government elections in their states, amplifying the pressure for a nationwide initiative.