Home 2008: 1 Restore local council elections

Restore local council elections

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One of the major election issues this time around has been the demand for the restoration of local council elections. Local  councils have become unaccountable, indifferent to people’s woes, inefficient in their management and intolerable in the way services are provided. Councillors become arrogant, abuse their powers, serve themselves, not the public, and are sometimes the source of corruption. Think about that as you go out to vote.

The appointment of Councillors ignores their background and their track record of performance and does not take into account even if they were found to be recalcitrant or totally discredited. Their positions in the BN parties override all the other considerations, and they can be reappointed – and, in some cases, together with their family members – again and again even if they flout the law and regulations, refuse to pay their assessments, put up buildings illegally and operate their businesses without licence.

A classic case in point was the reappoinment of Zakaria, together with  his son and daughter-in-law – all three being prominent members of the Umno leadership in Klang – in spite of his misdeeds. Luckily for us, HRH the Sultan of Selangor intervened to stop this farce. Though Zakaria resigned because of the mounting pressure, that did not stop the reappointment of his son and daughter-in-law as Councillors.

Instead of being repentant for the mess created in the local councils in Selangor, Selangor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo tried to justify the unjustifiable with his shocking statement, “Let us face it, building without proper planning permission is not just rampant in Selangor, but the whole of Malaysia”.

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It is true, indeed. But the question is, “Is it right to perpetuate a wrong because it goes unchecked elsewhere? Do we want the rot to spread?”

Numerous complaints

It is truly regrettable that the BN government is not bothered about improving the delivery system or about being accountable to the people. That is also part of the reason – besides the fear of being thrashed if local elections are held — why the BN government will not resort to local council elections.

Of course there would be no guarantee that the people would not have any complaints against elected local councils. But  insofar as the councillors depend on the people to be elected they will have to perform in the interest of the people.

A lot of our wealth is wasted and squandered because there is no effective check and balance system in place. Unethical and corrupt Councillors who are politically rewarded continue to enjoy the confidence of the BN leadership even though the taxpayers are simply disgusted with their conduct, performance and lack of interest for the welfare of the people.

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