Can’t take Putrajaya if can’t even win local polls, Kit Siang tells PAS


(Malay Mail Online) – PAS’s misgivings about restoring local government elections reveals the Islamist party’s lack of confidence in performing well in them and superior polls, DAP’s Lim Kit Siang said today.

Dismissing allegations that the DAP was aiming to take control of the country via the so-called third vote, the Gelang Patah MP said the internal disagreement within Pakatan Rakyat suggests that the pact’s ultimate aim of governing the country now appeared more distant.

“My hesitancy has been reinforced by the controversial statement by the PAS president, Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, about the restoration of local government elections, which could only mean that the PAS president is not optimistic about PAS electoral chances if local government elections are held throughout the country,” the DAP Parliamentary Leader said in a statement today.

“If PAS has no confidence in Pakatan Rakyat achieving great victories if local government elections are restored, PR must return to the drawing board as this does not bode well for PR’s grand design to win Putrajaya in the 14GE,” the Gelang Patah MP later added.

He pointed out that victories in local government polls in other countries have often acted as precursors to wins at the national level, citing former Jakarta governor turned Indonesian president Joko Widodo, as well as Iran’s former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Turkey’s current president Recep Tayyip Erdogan — both formerly mayors of Tehran and Istanbul.

Today, Lim said he was perplexed over Hadi’s remarks that restoring local council elections would worsen racial inequality to the detriment of the Malays, citing statistics that showed “Malay urbanisation” with towns and cities now having far greater Malay populations compared to decades ago.

According to Lim, the Malay community in urban areas in peninsular Malaysia has grown from 21 per cent in 1957 to 48.3 per cent in 2000, while the Chinese population fell from 62 per cent to 34.8 per cent in the same period.

Out of the 148 local authorities in Malaysia, the overwhelming majority or 132 of them are Malay-majority areas, while just three are Chinese-majority areas, with 13 mixed areas being predominantly Chinese and Malay in seven and six areas, he said.

Lim also questioned Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s claims yesterday that restoring local government elections could lead to imbalanced racial representation in urban areas with allegedly heavy concentration of non-Bumiputera, again citing figures that 132 of 148 local authorities oversee Malay-majority areas.

Today, Lim also rubbished Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) deputy president Aminuddin Yahaya’s claims that DAP already controlled nearly 60 per cent of Malaysia’s state seats and was aiming at restoring local government polls to allegedly take over the country.

Citing greater transparency, DAP recently suggested its Pakatan Rakyat (PR) allies adopt Penang’s approach and enact state laws in Selangor and Kelantan to try to return the third vote to Malaysians.

This prompted PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang to claim that bringing back local elections would cause disunity and lead to a repeat of the May 13, 1969, racial riots, a statement which found support from Umno minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan.

The disagreement over the third vote is the most recent flashpoint between PAS and DAP, who have been trading barbs over the Islamist party’s plan to enforce hudud Islamic penal law in Kelantan.

Local council elections were suspended in 1965 because of the Indonesian Confrontation and then-prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman promised the Dewan Rakyat that local elections would be restored once the Confrontation was over. They were never brought back.