Home Civil Society Voices Stop racialising local council elections

Stop racialising local council elections

Voters casting their ballots enthusiastically at the Penang Forum 3 experimental local council poll in 2010

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C4 Center is troubled over Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s announcement that local council elections are off the cards on the basis that there would be a racial conflict.

“There will be conflict, emphasised probably by racial differences and the like. We don’t want that to happen,” said Mahathir. h

It is troubling to see Mahathir appears cornered into racialising the issue as was done by various parties and by BN previously.

“This is an important policy shift, and while we acknowledge that it was dropped from the PH manifesto, we reiterate that this fundamental right has nothing to do with race nor religion. If the new Pakatan Harapan government were to racialise every single policy reform, they appear no different from the previous BN government.

“It becomes imperative to look at the reform on its merits, which is intricately tied to the government’s central agenda of defeating corruption and poor accountability,” said Cynthia Gabriel, executive director of C4 Center.

The rakyat had voted in the Pakatan Harapan government, which forged the arrival of a new Malaysia. The democratic practice of Malaysians that brought in the new government must be voiced out at its most basic level, which is at the local council stage

Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin announced in July 2018 her commitment that the third vote would be implemented within three years.

It is vital for local council members to be elected by the people as they are the third and most basic level of governance and understand the needs and requirements of the local community much better than the federal government.

Local councillors will not only provide checks and balances in the administration but also enable better community participation in decision-making.

The third vote will improve governance at all levels, elevate integrity and accountability, enforce prudent public finance management and enhance public service delivery.

Cynthia Gabriel is executive director of C4 Center.

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