Bypassing EC for local council elections

Maria Chin Abdullah
The Coalition for Good Governance (CGG) applauds the Penang and the Selangor state governments for their political maturity in responding to the peoples’ call to bring back local council elections.
CGG hopes that other state governments will also follow suit and take the brave step to bring back local council elections and restore mechanisms for local democracy.
However, we would also like to remind the Penang chief minister and the Selangor menteri besar that in the event that the Election Commission refuses to cooperate with the Penang and the Selangor state governments on the basis that it is of the view that there is still a need to amend federal laws, CGG proposes that state governments instead conduct a People-Oriented Selection Process (POSP).
CGG has conducted a research for the Selangor state government and given three options on how local council elections can be carried out. This POSP will by-pass the Election Commission and still give due recognition to the elected candidates. The POSP will run like an election, whereby candidates are ‘nominated’ by communities at their constituency levels.
Once nominated, the state government will name and appoint these nominees as the rightful councillors for the specified constituency. This method can be carried out in the shortest possible time frame – within 12 months. The POSP will enable citizens to reclaim their rights to the third vote.
As part of the prime minister’s call, ‘People First, Performance Now’, CGG strongly urges the federal government to match this promise made to the people and restore local council elections as it was the federal government that abolished local elections in 1965.
Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and his administration must be responsible to take the lead to ensure that the Election Commission assists in the administration of the local council elections in Penang and Selangor and ensure a free and fair elections.
CGG, as a coalition committed to local democracy, has started its campaign, People’s participation, Right to Information and Local Council Elections (PIE campaign). The PIE campaign is to create new politics where citizens positively engage in a dynamic, relevant and vibrant local democracy.
Participating in local democracy is an efficient, effective way of influencing what happens to the people. This campaign is the rakyat’s call for more effort to be put into place to increase the people’s participation and to enact a Right to Information Act and also to bring back local council elections.
CGG, therefore, calls upon the federal government to rise to the occasion to improve accountability, transparency and to bring back justice to the citizens. Bringing back local council elections will be the litmus test for the principles of accountability, openness and transparency in all governments.
The writer is chair, Coalition for Good Governance. This letter is endorsed by both the CGG and the All Petaling Jaya Action Committee (Apac).