Pressing need for local elections

The Star
I REFER to “The unfulfilled promises” (CitizenNades, April 20), especially on the reinstatement of local government elections which quoted me. I made the call for local elections in an interview many years ago when I was state assemblyman of Subang Jaya and a councillor in MPSJ, and the state government was under BN.
Many people thought there was no need for local elections in Selangor once Pakatan Rakyat took control of the state government and local councils where the councillors are all Pakatan appointed.
However, events following last year’s elections show that there is still a need to have local elections. DAP MP Jeff Ooi’s criticism of the Penang Municipal Council and the many allegations of abuse against Pakatan appointed councillors (recently in MPSJ too) show an urgent need to have local elections.
As stated by me many years ago, a local election is the ONLY WAY where local authorities can be transparent and accountable to the public. The mayors, presidents and councillors will forever be “subservient” to their appointers, ie mentris besar or state executive councillors in charge of local authorities. This is true whether the state is controlled by BN, PKR, DAP or PAS.
Some quarters think local elections will further polarise our racial make-up as the urban areas maybe won by non-Malays and rural areas by Malays. If this is so, then one should follow the Singapore model of group representative constituency where each ward or “kawasan” must have candidates from at least two races standing together on one platform. In this way, each ticket will have a minimum of two races standing.
It is time that ratepayers have a say in the local government directly and not indirectly through appointed councillors. After all, the actions and policies of local government affect the daily lives of all residents.

Lee Hwa Beng
Former Subang Jaya assemblyman