Majority want local government elections, polls show – By Lee Wei Lian

The Malaysian Insider | KUALA LUMPUR, 16-June-2010 — Over 70 per cent of voters contacted in a Merdeka Centre survey support local government elections while only 16 per cent rejected the concept.
Malaysia used to practice local council government elections but the practice was abolished in 1964 and it is widely perceived that the quality of services have steadily deteriorated as local government representatives are no longer accountable to the local citizenry.

There have been numerous calls from the public for local government elections to be re-instated and DAP even made it part of their 2008 election campaign manifesto.

Since taking power in Penang however, DAP has been unable to deliver on that promise saying that local council elections would require federal approval.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has rejected calls for such elections saying that it would lead to more unwanted politicking.

Support for local government elections was fairly consistent across all races with Chinese at 75 per cent, Indians at 71 per cent and Malays at 68 per cent.

A majority of respondents — 54 per cent — also said that they do not know their local councilors.

Sixty-six per cent of respondents also agreed that too much power is concentrated in the hands of the federal government while only 23 per cent disagreed.

The survey showed a lack of widespread confidence in terms of understanding the roles of the various jurisdictions and the concept of local government election.

More than half – 54 per cent – said that they do not understand the different jurisdictions of state and federal government.

When asked the question: “Do you understand what it means, when people talk about

local government elections?” slightly more than half responded “No” while 45 per cent said “Yes”.

For the survey The Merdeka Centre polled 1028 randomly selected voters structured along the national electorate profile in May. It has an estimated margin of error of about 3.1 per cent.

Most countries that have well run towns and cities practice local government elections. These include Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Switzerland, Japan, US and Germany.