Pakatan states could follow Penang in third vote bid

Malaysian Insider
By Clara Choo

KUALA LUMPUR, March 8 — All Pakatan Rakyat-ruled states might emulate the Penang government to seek restoring local government elections, once the Election Commission (EC) decides on the matter.
Already, the Selangor government has joined Penang in the bid with Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim confirming the state government would write to the EC to hold the third vote.
Pakatan leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said today that the restoration of local council elections, a proposal that DAP secretary-general and Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has been pushing since 2007, had already been given an approval in principle by the coalition.
He carefully said however that the other parties would first wait to see how the issue panned out with Penang before making a blanket decision for the remaining Pakatan states.
Aside from Penang and Selangor, the states of Kedah and Kelantan are also run by Pakatan.
“We have already agreed on this, as approved during the (Pakatan Rakyat) convention (last year) that we will look at the details, the provisions in the law. So I think once the EC gives its answer, we (Pakatan leadership) will meet and we will see then how to move on,” he said.
PAS vice-president Salahuddin Ayub agreed, and said the Pakatan parties are now simply trying to identify the best mechanism on restoring the elections.
The Pakatan component parties of PKR, DAP and PAS campaigned during Election 2008 with promises of local government elections.
Lim had pushed for it in the Common Policy Framework of the Pakatan Rakyat unveiled last December, but the coalition pact opted to go for the phrase “strengthening local government democracy”.
Meanwhile, the Penang government is appealing to the EC to hold a discussion first before making a decision on holding the elections.
Lim said that the state government is ready to discuss how to fine-tune the details so that the commission could better understand the issue.
“We want them to make a decision only after having a discussion with us for otherwise, it may seem as if they are taking directions from certain quarters,” he said.
The Penang government, following a state executive council meeting, had sent a letter to the EC on March 4, asking the commission to hold local government elections for the Penang Municipal Council and the Seberang Prai Municipal Council.
The state was invoking its powers under Article 113(4) of the Federal Constitution, which states that federal or state law may authorise the EC to conduct elections other than parliamentary or state elections.
However EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof has admitted that the body had no experience in conducting such polls.
“If we follow the process in the early 1960s, the elections were conducted by the EC. They are the competent authority to hold these elections. Since Penang is definitely the first state in history to exercise Article 113(4) however, maybe the EC is not used to it or is unaware on the procedures involved in conducting local government elections.
“However, we are ready to discuss this with them first. We hope they will discuss it before deciding,” said Lim.