PETALING JAYA: The government must hold local council elections in Petaling Jaya (PJ), Penang and Kuala Lumpur (KL) for mayors and councillors by June and Dec next year.
This was the roadmap that a group of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) - made up of Petaling Jaya Coalition (MyPJ), Penang Forum Coalition, and Save Kuala Lumpur (SKL) - sought from the Housing and Local Government Ministry for the implementation of local council elections.
The NGOs also urged for the minister Zuraida Kamaruddin to implement election of council presidents and councillors for the rest of Malaysia within the three-year time frame promised by her.
The proposed roadmap for implementing local council elections was unveiled in a press conference by the NGOs’ representatives at the Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) here this afternoon.
Welcoming the promise by Zuraida, SKL vice-chairman Datuk M. Ali said that this is in line with aspirations to institutionalise public participation, strengthen democracy and fulfill the people’s expectation of a new Malaysia post 14th General Election (GE14).
“In the interim period before the elections, we advocate the following steps to be taken and among them are to establish a working group of experts and civil society immediately to plan the execution of mayoral elections by June 2019 and city council elections (both elections in PJ, Penang, and KL) by Dec 2019,” he said.
He added that other steps that the government can take are to ensure one-third of councillors’ positions are reserved for civil society and community representatives as well as ensure transparency in the process of appointing councillors, and ensure local government carry out public education in support of local elections.
“Local council elections will strengthen the rule of law in all the three layers of government,” he said.
He said this is especially important as he claimed that during the Barisan Nasional (BN) administration, the people’s representation in local councils (via civil society and community representatives) in PH-ruled Penang and Selangor were hijacked by political parties.
Among those present at the press conference today were MyPJ chairman Jeffrey FK Phang, his assistant secretary Esham Salam and SKL chairman Tan Sri Dr Abdul Aziz A. Rahman.
On May 26, Zuraida reportedly said that local council elections could be held in three years' time.
She elaborated yesterday that the three-year period is not too long as the government needed to study all the working papers and existing laws before such elections could be carried out.