Challenge the government to hold a national referendum on restoration of local government elections

In response to the Penang state government’s historic decision to restore local council elections, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said that such a move would not necessarily enhance their services to the people.

Najib said with such elections, the local councils’ focus would shift to campaigning instead of providing and enhancing services to the people.

I am not surprised that the Prime Minister has rejected the call to restore local council elections as restoration of such elections has not been the BN’s election pledge since the suspension and ultimate abolition of the elections by the Alliance government.

I am surprised though that he has used the laughable excuse of “focus on politicking” and ” services not enhanced”.

I believe that the real reason is simply because BN fears losing the majority of the local government if election is allowed. This was the same reason why the Alliance government did not honour its promise to hold local elections after the end of the Malaya-Indonesia confrontation.

Although there have been excuses that local government election will incur cost, time and even involve politicking, these are not valid and acceptable reasons. If such excuses can be accepted, they too can apply to state government or even federal government election!

Local government is a very important level of government in a democracy and there is no justification whatsoever not to allow the people the right to elect who should run their local government.

In fact, the abolition of local council elections in the early seventies has resulted in many inefficient and unresponsive local councils which are not transparent and accountable in their policy formation, decision and implementation.

Since taking over the office of Prime Minister, Najib has vowed to bring about reforms and he has mentioned many times the government’s slogan is ” Rakyat Di Dahulukan”.

But is he walking the talk if he is not prepared to respect the people’s democratic right to choose their local government?

I have no doubt that majority of Malaysians want the restoration of their right to elect their local government. I therefore challenge the Prime Minister to hold a national referendum and let the people decide on whether local government election should be restored.