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Local govt elections won't happen, says Nazri
22-June-2010, The Malay Mail
By Joseph Kaos Jr, Shahrim Tamrim

KUALA LUMPUR: The government is still ruling out the return of local government elections.

A recent survey conducted by independent opinion research firm Merdeka Center revealed that 71% of its respondents were in favour of the third vote.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, however, affirmed the government is clear on its stance and will not reconsider, despite the results of the survey.

"The government’s stance on elections for local governments is still no," said Nazri, when met at Parliament yesterday.

Last Saturday, Democratic Action Party (DAP) national chairman Karpal Singh said the DAP-led Penang government will take legal action to restore local government elections.

"I think it’s a constitutional issue," said Nazri, responding to Karpal’s statement. "So bring it to court then. Let the court decide on the requirement of the constitution with regard to local government elections."

When asked about the chances of Penang triumphing in court, the de facto law minister was confident the third vote will not be reintroduced.

"It all depends on the interpretation of the constitution, so let the courts decide on that. But in our opinion, it (the reintroduction of local government elections) can’t happen," said Nazri.

The State governments of Penang and Selangor have been lobbying for the restoration of the 'third vote', but their requests have been shot down by the Federal government.

Selangor exco for Local Government, Study and Research, Ronnie Liu, told The Malay Mail on Sunday the Selangor government will not follow the Penang government in taking the matter to court but it is studying ways to hold local government elections without breaching the law.

The Merdeka Center survey results, released last week, was based on a telephone survey on 1,028 randomly-selected registered voters in Peninsular Malaysia.

Among other things, the same survey also found 45 per cent of the respondents fully understood what was meant by the third vote.

In March, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said it was unnecessary to reintroduce local government elections, abolished in 1965, because it will encourage politicking among members of local councils.

The then Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Kong Cho Ha also said he did not support local government polls, due to the complications it carries, such as tremendous logistics, tedious process and hefty costs.

Reinstate third vote within ambit of the law, says Liu

PETALING JAYA: The Selangor government is studying the possibilities and methods within the law to hold local government elections in the near future.

“The idea to organise local government elections is very much our intention. We are looking at it from all possibilities within the law to do it,” said State exco for Local Government, Study and Research, Ronnie Liu.

Liu, speaking to The Malay Mail, said the Selangor government believes it has found a way to hold local elections without breaching the law.

“One possibility is to hold local government elections by fielding local councillors’ appointed by the State.” This way, he felt, voters would have a choice of picking the best possible candidates from among the councillors appointed earlier by the State.

When asked if the State government would still require the Election Commission's (EC) approval to organise it, he said: “It’s a bit delicate but it’s attainable. There’s still an available avenue to hold it.”

Liu, who is Pandamaran assemblyman, said the Selangor government was aware the proposal for local council polls was hampered by Federal legislation, such as the Local Government Act 1976, which prevents the State government's intention to hold the third vote.

“At the moment, Selangor is not going to follow the path of the Penang government to institute legal proceedings to hold local elections.”

He was responding to DAP chairman Karpal Singh’s recent statement that the Penang government would seek legal action to restore local elections.

Instead, Liu said the Selangor government is looking at various possibilities within the law to restore local government elections.

“The Selangor government is determined and still believes that we can to hold it to fulfill our 2008 general election promises.”


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