Penang CM offers to meet Najib over local govt polls

Written by Regina William, The Edge

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng is prepared to meet Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to explain the state government’s rational and reasons to initiate the local government elections.

Commenting on Najib’s statement that there was no need for the local government elections as it would heighten politicking, Lim said he disagreed with Najib’s views.

“If he has the time to meet me, I am willing to explain our stand on this. This is an accepted practice worldwide as out of 192 countries, the third vote is practiced in 101 countries.

“If they can successfully do this even in Africa, why can’t we do the same here?

“Even if it has not been carried out for the past 45 years, the excuse given by the Election Commission (EC) that it has no experience of holding the local government elections and hence is not sure about it, is insane,” Lim said at a press conference.

“Don’t use such lame and shallow excuses and this matter should be addressed in a mature manner.

“Perhaps the EC can look to the other countries which have been carrying out the local government election for years for advice.

“We should give the people back their third vote.”

Lim said contrary to Najib’s belief that it would lead to politicking, local government elections would force the municipal councillors to work harder for the people as their survival would no longer be via political appointments but being elected by the people.

He said the comments by Najib was also an indicator that the federal government had no political will to see through the local government elections.

“Truly, this is a test for the EC’s independence, whether they are independent as they claim to be, or they are just tools of the Barisan Nasional government,” he said at the press conference.

Najib had commented on the request made by the Penang state government last week for the EC to conduct local government elections, saying that the elections would not guarantee that local authorities would provide better service to the people.

Recently, the Penang state executive council had unanimously agreed for local elections to be held and a letter was sent to EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof to initiate the process.

The request was made pursuant to Article 113(4) of the Federal Constitution, which provides for federal and state laws to authorise the EC to conduct elections other than that for parliament or state assemblies.

Local government elections were last held in Penang 45 years ago.