Local polls could lead to 'racial imbalance', says deputy minister

Written by Chua Sue-Ann (The Edge)
KUALA LUMPUR: Housing and Local Government Deputy Minister Datuk Seri Lajim Ukin said on Thursday,April 1, local-government elections were undesirable as they would likely create racial imbalances in local councils.
“Most non-Muslims live in the urban areas while the bumiputeras are in the rural areas. There will be an imbalance in racial representation in local governments if such elections are held,” Lajim told a press conference in parliament’s lobby today.
Lajim (Beaufort – BN) reiterated that the federal government had considered all the socio-economic factors, apart from financial and logistical costs, before rejecting recent proposals to restore local-government elections.
The deputy minister added that the current system, where local councillors were appointed, was sufficient and did not hinder democracy given that the people could vote for their members of parliaments and state assemblymen every five years.
The Election Commission (EC) had recently rejected requests by the Pakatan Rakyat-led (PR) state governments of Selangor and Penang to bring back local-council elections on grounds that the relevant legal provisions had ceased to be effective following the passing of the Local Government Act 1976.
However, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng had said the state government has established a legal advisory body to study the EC’s rejection and to explore further options.
Lajim also said the Pakatan Rakyat state governments of Penang, Selangor and Kedah could “appoint who they wish” or who they felt could represent the public, noting that the state governments were empowered to appoint councillors .