[TheNutGraph.com] Why is the BN against local elections?
~ By Wong Chin Huat
AT least on the surface, the Barisan Nasional (BN) agrees with the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) on two things: ethno-religious inclusion and governmental reforms. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's 1Malaysia and Government Transformation Programme are basically the BN's answer to the PR's ketuanan rakyat and "competency, accountability and transparency".
But the two coalitions now differ on one thing: local government elections. While Penang and Selangor are writing to the Election Commission (EC) for authorisation to carry out local elections, the BN has shot down the idea. The question is, why is the BN so against the idea of reviving local government elections?
Like father, like son
For Najib, the purpose of government seems to be about providing good service as he sees fits, not on citizens deciding collectively how society should govern itself.
But don't be surprised. Najib's father, second Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak paid only lip service to democracy. He said, "The view we take is that democratic government is the best and most acceptable form of government. So long as the form is preserved, the substance can be changed to suit conditions of a particular economy."
Why did Abdul Razak want to preserve only the form and not the substance of democracy? It appears he saw an internal contradiction between democracy and interethnic unity. He said this in 1973: "[In] our Malaysian society of today, where racial manifestations are very much in exercise, any form of politicking is bound to follow along racial lines and will only enhance the divisive tendencies amongst our people."
Thirty seven years later, his son Najib says almost the same thing about local elections: "We feel it will increase politicking at the local [government] level. We want to improve services for the rakyat. By having [local government] elections, the focus will be more on the political process."
Najib's rejection of local elections is in fact perfectly rational. If one wants to keep a one-party state, one should have as few elections as possible, or have them all in one go.
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