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Local council elections are our right!

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Ratepayers who contribute such a huge sum to the coffers of the council have a right to hold councillors accountable for their performance, says P Ramakrishnan.

Rama (right) - Photograph: The Malaysian Insider
Rama (right) – Photograph: The Malaysian Insider

Penangites want the third vote to be restored and we want to reclaim our democracy. It is incongruous that we could elect our federal and state leaders but we don’t have the same right to elect our local leaders.

This is an absurd situation that cannot be accepted in all good conscience.

Professor Andrew Harding yesterday (25 February 2013) observed at a forum in Kuala Lumpur, “Malaysia is unique among democratic countries around the world, for it does not elect local councillors”.

Why should that be so? There is no valid reason or justification for prohibiting the election of local councillors.

Ratepayers who contribute such a huge sum to the coffers of the council have a right to hold the councillors accountable for their performance and the manner in which the affairs of the council are conducted.

This can only be exercised through the election of the local government.

Councillors should be accountable to the ratepayers and should not be beholden to their political patrons. This patronage system should give way to participatory democracy, which allows for election of councillors.

Elected councillors will tend to be more responsible and conscious in their duties knowing full well that if they don’t measure up to the expectations of the ratepayers they will get the boot.

Thus, there will be a conscientious effort to perform well and be prudent in the monetary management.
Barisan Nasional and the Election Commission should not be a stumbling block in our endeavour to restore local council elections.

READ MORE:  Elections first or last resort?

P Ramakrishnan is the second petioner in a legal suit initiated by the Penang state government (the first petitioner) against the federal government and the Elections Commission.

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