Pakatan’s deceit on local council elections


The coalition’s ‘keadilan’ image will be severely dented if it does not get its house in order and keep to its election manifesto promises.

Jeffrey FK Phang, FMT

In 2008, Pakatan Rakyat captured four states, riding on a wave of public support crying out for change and transparency. Local democracy was touted and public demonstrations by NGOs were fully supported by all of its component parties. Local council elections became part of its election manifesto.

A 25% quota was allocated to civil society and the first batch of councillors had a good number from NGOs. The coalition of good governance (CGG) was formed, and with a grant from the Selangor government, worked out the feasibility of conducting local council elections.

A serious attempt was made to implement it, using MBPJ as the first council, but the final go-ahead never came. All the series of meeting came to an end with no closure. Unofficially we were told that one party in Pakatan had reservations and it was difficult to go ahead with it.

The exco for local government, Teng Chang Kim, said in a statement to the press that the Bill for local council elections was ready and awaiting support from only one party. Members were encouraged to persuade this party to agree so that he could get on with the job of implementing it.

Many doubted the sincerity of his statement based on observations and the performance of Pakatan since 2008. In 2013, Pakatan no longer took a strong stand on local council elections, dropping it from its election manifesto.

After 2008, many local councils lost their NGOs. Lobbying by politicians to get their compliant proxies resulted in delays in the appointments, leaving them without councillors for months while power-hungry politicians fought over the quota and subsequently usurped the seats from the NGO quota.

Teng promised local council elections in 2014 when he was appointed exco for local government and then made the move of appointing councilors whose terms will end in 2015. This makes a mockery of Teng’s statement that one party was reluctant to consent to the elections.

This matter has been discussed before. Pakatan’s fear is that as the majority of its members are Malays, they will hardly get any seats in urban areas where the population is mixed. This can be overcome by following the Singapore model of electing groups of councillors, each consisting of all races.

While it may be a good solution, it also reaffirms that Pakatan is not ready to move away from race based politics. The real reason for Pakatan having two minds about local council elections is based on the greed for power. We are all familiar with the phrase ‘power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely’.

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