Penang Pakatan Rakyat State Government moves to restore local council vote
~ By Neville Spykerman
PENANG, March 6 — Penang has decided to ask the Election Commission (EC) to conduct local government elections for two municipalities in the state this year, sticking to its campaign promise to restore the third vote just days shy of its electoral victory two years ago.
Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said today the local election will involve two municipal councils: the Municipal Council of Penang Island (MPPP) and Municipal Council of Seberang Perai (MPSP).
If held, the elections will be the first in the country in more than 40 years since the federal government banned them in 1965.
“The executive council decided this week we will go ahead with the local government election,” Lim told The Malaysian Insider, adding the government has sent a letter to the EC on March 4 asking them to conduct the polls.
“We want to restore the democratic power to the people,” he added, pointing out that Penang was the first state government to move in this direction.
However, he declined to elaborate further, saying that he would rather wait for the EC to respond to his letter. “I don’t want to colour future discussion with the EC. After all, it has been 45 years, so we can wait a bit longer.”
“It was a unanimous decision by the state executive council,” Lim said, when asked if PAS and PKR were consulted or had any objections to the move. He added opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was aware of the move.
In the letter addressed to EC chairman, Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof, Lim said the state it was asking the commission to conduct the local government elections under Article 113 (4) of the Federal Constitution.
The Article reads that federal and state laws can confer power to the EC to conduct any other elections apart from those in Schedule (1). Lim’s letter said the federal laws that allow the state government to be a competent authority include Local Government Elections Act 1960 and the Local Government Act 1976.
The chief minister also hoped for a meeting soon to get the EC’s views on the local government elections, which it hoped would be held soon.
The DAP secretary-general had proposed the third vote campaign in 2007, a year before then-prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi called for elections on March 8, 2008. But the federal government had refused the proposal to restore the elections.
He also pushed for it in the Common Policy Framework of the Pakatan Rakyat unveiled last December, but the coalition pact opted to go for the phrase “strengthening local government democracy”. Pakatan now comprises PKR, DAP and PAS.
It is understood the main fear of the allies was losing to the ruling Barisan Nasional federal government if such elections were held. There was also a fear that non-Malays would swamp Malays in the vote, particularly in urban areas, but several Pakatan strategists had pointed out that there have been shifts in population demographics.
Taken from The Malaysian Insider.
[Malaysiakini] Penang moves to restore local gov't elections
Two days before Pakatan Rakyat celebrates its second anniversary of its takeover of Penang, the state government announced that it has moved to restore local government elections.
The local election will involve two municipal councils - the Municipal Council of Penang Island (MPPP) and Municipal Council of Seberang Perai (MPSP).
Chief minister Lim Guan Eng said he had sent a letter to Election Commission (EC) chief Abdul Aziz Yusof two days ago asking the commission to conduct election for both local councils.
The state executive council had in a meeting on March 3 decided for local council elections to be held, Lim said in the March 4 letter.
He also cited Article 113(4) of the federal constitution, which states that "Federal or State law may authorize the Election Commission to conduct elections other than those referred to in Clause (1)."
Among the state laws that empower the Penang government as the competent authority, the letter reads further, are the Local Government Elections Act 1960 and the Local Government Act 1976.
"Consequently, in order to facilitate and implement this proposal to carry out the election, we request that the Election Commission advise us of its views in relation to the proposed local council election process as soon as possible.
"The state government is prepared to meet with you to discuss the matter further."
EC: Too early to respond
When contacted, EC deputy chairperson Wan Ahmad Wan Omar said the letter has yet to be brought to the attention of the commission.
wan ahmad ec secretary“The EC will look at the letter and discuss it before giving a response (to the Penang government).
“Whether that response will be positive or negative, it is too early to say. This involves legal issues that we have to taken into consideration,” said Ahmad.
It has been over 40 years since the government outlawed local council elections through the Local Government Act 1976.
Local polls were suspended following the declaration of emergency on Sept 3, 1964, which remains in force.
The call to have local council elections reinstated have grown louder in recent years due to an increasing reports and complaints on alleged poor administration and weak financial management.
Taken from Malaysiakini.