Restoration of Local Government Elections: Now for the Implementation…

SUARAM welcomes the announcement by both the Penang Chief Minister and the Selangor Menteri Besar that the respective state governments of Penang and Selangor have decided to restore local government elections and instructed the Elections Commission to conduct elections for local council governments in both states.
These announcements have come after a long wait since the last local elections were held in 1963. Elections at the local level have since been suspended under a proclamation of emergency in September 1964 during the Indonesia-staged Confrontation.
A New Chapter in Malaysian Democracy
SUARAM recognises that this move by the Penang and the Selangor state governments in announcing its decision to restore local government elections not only paves the way for a new chapter in Malaysian democracy, but also indicates the political will of the two state governments to fulfill its promises in last General Election – 2 years after coming to power in their respective states.
SUARAM stresses the importance of the restoration of local government elections as it would reinstate the people’s right to elect their representatives who will deal with their local issues. It would also mark a return of the fundamental principle of “no taxation without representation” and ensure a more direct participation of the people in the decision making process at the local level.
All Appointed Councillors Should Vacate Their Positions
While welcoming the decision of the Penang and Selangor state governments, SUARAM urges all appointed Councillors in the two states to vacate their respective current positions in order to expedite and pave way for the elections of new Councillors there, as well as to demonstrate the seriousness of the Penang and Selangor state governments in their efforts.
All Other State Governments Should Follow Suit
SUARAM further urges all other state governments – both in Pakatan Rakyat- and Barisan Nasional-ruled states – to also make the same call as that have been made by the state governments of Penang and Selangor.
SUARAM also calls on the federal government to implement local council elections at the Federal Territories and hold direct elections for the position of the Mayor.
Amend All Relevant Laws Immediately!
To ensure the smooth implementation of the local council elections, SUARAM calls on the Barisan Nasional federal government to initiate amendments to all relevant laws on local government in the coming Parliamentary sitting. By doing so, any existing legal obstacles which may impede the restoration of local council elections will be overcome and as such, the Elections Commission would thus be able focus its efforts solely on technical matters pertaining to the implementation of elections at the local government level.
Lastly, SUARAM looks forward to the implementation of local council elections nationwide in the near future.