Move to reinstate local government elections in Penang


PUTRAJAYA: The Penang government has resorted to legal avenue to restore local government elections in the state.


Since the matter involved a constitutional issue, the state yesterday filed a leave application at the Federal Court registry as a first step to obtain the opinion of the apex court.
Leave has to be obtained before the Federal Court proceeds to hear the substantive issue.
The move is the first by a state to reinstate elections at the third tier of the government.
Currently, councillors to the local government are appointed by state governments.
In its petition, the petitioners - the state goverment and P. Ramakrishnan, a Penang resident - said the newly-passed Local Government Elections (Penang Island and Province Wellesley) Enactment 2012 should override federal laws stopping elections to select local councillors.
The Federal Government and the Election Commission (EC) have been named as respondents to the action.
They want a declaration that the Penang government was entitled to hold election within the state and the EC to immediately conduct polls or assist the state in that task. 
The petitioners want a declaration that, among others, by virtue Articles 74, 76 and the Lists in the ninth Schedule in the Federal Constitution, the state has the sole authority to make laws in respect of local government election in Penang.
They also want a declaration that the Local Government Election Act 1960 is inconsistent with provisions in the constitution.
Further, the petitioners said elections to the municipality of George Town had been  held since 1857 but was suspended all over Malaysia following promulgation of an Emergency regulation in 1965.
They said former prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman had promised the Dewan Rakyat then that the local government election would be restored once the Confrontation with Indonesia was over.
Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and Ramakrishnan, a former Aliran president, were also present when the petition was filed.

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