Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Najib rejects local council elections.

PUTRAJAYA: 09 MAR 2010 - Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said today he felt it was unnecessary to reintroduce local government elections as they would only give importance to politicking among members of the local councils.

“We are of the opinion that the local government elections were abolished long time ago, so there is no need to restore it,” he said.

He also said the federal government felt that the local councils should focus more on improving their services to the people.

"The focus should be on providing the best service to the people instead of giving importance to the political process," he told a news conference after addressing the 11th National Civil Service Premier Gathering, here.

Local government elections would not necessarily improve the services local councils provided to the people, he said when asked to comment on the intention of the Penang and Selangor state governments to reintroduce local government elections.

Local government elections in the country were abolished in 1965.

The reintroduction of these elections in Penang was promised by the opposition parties during the 2008 general election campaign.

Penang govt baffled by Najib's argument

In an immediate reaction, the Penang government rejected Najib's argument that local government elections were unnecessary because it would cause politicking.

State executive councillor in charge of local government affairs, Chow Kon Yeow said that Najib’s argument was a lame duck excuse to avoid making local councils more accountable to the public.

Chow said that if that was the reason for not holding council polls, Najib should then to away with federal and state governments.

“Even without elections, politicking would exist anywhere. Politicking cannot be used as an excuse to avoid local council polls,” he told journalists in George Town today.

Penang government has written a letter of request to the Election Commission to conduct elections for council members, including presidents. Penang has two municipal councils, each on the island (MPPP) and mainland Seberang Perai (MPSP).

Chow said local government elections were imperative to give more public say on administrations of councils.

“Elections will compel councils to be more accountable for its performance to the public,” he said.

Besides the letter to the EC, the state government had already passed a House resolution calling on the Barisan Nasional’s Putrajaya administration to make the necessary legal amendments to restore council elections.

The Penang government has also written to the Housing and Local Government Ministry to restore the elections.

Chow aims to bring up the issue as a major agenda in the next Local Government National Council meeting. However, he is not putting much hope in succeeding.

“To restore the third vote, the government must have both the authority and political will. However, the federal government does not have the political will though it has the authority,” he said.

- By FMT staff

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