Advisory team to study legal aspects of local govt polls

Written by Regina William (The Edge)
GEORGE TOWN: The Penang state government has set up a legal advisory committee with former Bar Council president Yeo Yang Poh as the chairman to look into the legal aspects of carrying out local government elections.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said Yeo, who is also the deputy chairman of the Penang Pardons Board, will work with a legal team to pave the way to bring back the polls and decide on the state government’s next course of action.
“The committee will look at the various legal points raised in the 10-page reply from the EC on why the local government election cannot be held.
“The EC had also pointed out in the reply that the state government should have raised the matter with the local government council chaired by the deputy prime minister as it was the right avenue to decide on this matter.
“The state government via the state local government exco chairman Chow Kon Yeow had twice written to the local government committee, on July 14 and Aug 24 last year, to include this agenda to discuss restoring the local government elections during the local government committee meeting.
“Via two letters dated Aug 3 and Sept 14 last year, we received replies that the suggestion to include this discussion at the meeting was rejected,” he said at a press conference after officiating the Penang Industrial and Automation Expo 2010.
Lim reiterated the Local Government Elections Act 1960 had not been repealed and hence was still in force and “breathing”.
He said Article 113(4) of the Federal Constitution empowered the EC to conduct elections apart from those involving state and parliamentary elections, stressing that the Penang government was also relying on provisions in the Local Government Act 1976 and the Local Government Elections Act 1960 in restoring the “third vote”.
On Tuesday the EC had in its reply to the Penang government turned down the local government elections request stating among others that “all provisions in any law” relating to local government elections have been abolished and “ceased to have effect” on the application of Section 15 of the Local Government Act 1976.
In its reply, the EC highlighted that Section 15(1) of the Local Government Act states: “Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in any law and for so long as this Act is in operation, all provisions in any law relating to local government election shall cease to have force or effect.”
“All that we are doing is to exercise our powers as a fully fledged state government elected by the people to carry out the local government elections,” Lim said.
Meanwhile, Lim said Penang could offer more than 20,000 jobs to anyone from other parts of the country as there were jobs just waiting to be filled up.
“Penang has no problems absorbing these workers as for every one person looking for a job, two jobs are being offered to them.
“This is in stark contrast to the same period last year when jobs were hard to come by and there were some people who were being laid off.
“Now, even the manufacturing sector is complaining of having to reduce their output due to the inability to meet the orders, which have increased dramatically.
“They just cannot find enough workers to fill up the vacancies,” he added.
He called on the federal government to look into the grouses raised by the manufacturing and even services sector on the lack of human resources and to take the necessary measures to overcome their predicament.