In a creative initiative to push for the restoration of local council elections, Penang civil society groups under the Penang Forum held a public election to select their nominees to serve in the MPPP and MPSP for 2011. Tan Seng Hai reports on the historic poll.
The enthusiastic and smooth response to the balloting impressed visiting researcher Aya Fabros, who compared it with polls in her home country, the Philippines. We should think up more such creative means of engagement rather than count the reasons for resignation, she writes. In doing so, we can subvert the sources of our scepticism about elections and democracy.
Addressing the gathered candidates and voters, Lim Kah Cheng outlined the structure of local councils and the role of councillors. She stressed that people need to lobby for all important decisions and minutes of council meetings to be published on council websites while the meetings proper should be open to the public in a more meaningful way.
Another eye-opener was the Seksualti Merdeka 2010 fest at the Central Market in KL, which Julian Lee and Yeoh Seng Guan attended. Civil society groups have much to do to nurture a better understanding of gender diversities in the country, the two of them reflected.
Finally, Sarajun Hoda Abdul Hassan warns us to pay close attention to the European Union’s attempt to stitch up Free Trade Agreements with developing nations. The fact that the Malaysian government appears to be taking things so lightly is alarming, he concludes.