Monday, March 25

My wish list for 2019

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Grassroots government is democracy at its best.

I HAVE drawn up a short wish list for my columns this year, hoping that the politicians walking the corridors of power in Malaysia might spare a glance at some of them.

They may have a closer look at one or two proposals for what they are worth, or else ignore or dismiss them for lack of merit. My feelings won’t be hurt.

Let me then let loose the cat among the pigeons. First on the list is Local Government Elections.

This year, which began on Tuesday last week, I was watching a YouTube video, featuring a meeting in London between YB Abdul Hadi Awang, president of PAS/member of parliament and a select group of Malaysians who are residing or studying in Great Britain.

A member of the audience asked the influential Malaysian parliamentarian a question relating to local government elections in Malaysia.

Abdul Hadi’s answer was to the effect that if local government elections were to be held in such cities like Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh, and Johor Bahru, most of the councillor seats would be won by the Chinese in DAP.

And allegedly, according to him, as reported in that YouTube video, such a political dominance in those cities by one racial group would not be conducive to racial relations. In this context, he mentioned something about May 13.

All Malaysians know that there was a racial riot in Kuala Lumpur on May 13 of 1969, during which many innocent human lives were lost. Obviously, no one wants history of this infamous incident to repeat itself.

It appears that the fear on the part of one racial group losing power to another due to local government elections may spell the end of the talk about those elections for Peninsular Malaysia unless there is a change of mind or of perception those elections are good for the country, not the other way round.

We must respect Hadi for being honest in this matter. We now know why many Malaysian leaders in Peninsular Malaysia have been reluctant to restore the elections despite the recommendation by the Athi Nahappan Report 1965 to continue holding such elections.

If Hadi has his way, local government elections will never be held again in Peninsular Malaysia.

But, it doesn’t mean that we in Sarawak should not restore the elections to all the district councils, and the municipal and city councils. These elections had been held since 1948 and were abolished only in the 1980s.

Why the fear of restoring them? We the people know who we want to represent us in the councils.

I wish that our representatives on the Special Cabinet Committee would touch on this subject during their deliberations, with the view to restoring a perfectly practicable system of government.

Elections within three years?

In the same video, the name of the Federal Minister of Housing and Local Government as mentioned. YB Zuraida Kamaruddin was reported as saying that the local government elections would be held within the next three years. For the whole of Malaysia?

That was music to the ears of the advocates of local government elections everywhere in this country. We hope that she will walk the talk and that her view will be adopted as the federal government policy and implemented before the end of the tenure of office of Pakatan Harapan government.

Certainly, there’s something to look forward to in the coming months; maybe Sarawak may have to accommodate the federal policy like the anti-smoking policy that Sarawak will have to accommodate.

However, we have yet to hear from Zuraida’s counterpart – the Sarawak Minister of Local Government.

That silence baffles people like me. Could it be that I have missed reading any statement from YB Dr Sim to this effect?

It would be interesting to hear some comment on Hadi’s view of the subject under discussion from as many political leaders as possible including those from Sarawak.

Can Sarawak go ahead with the elections?

It is important that we get a signal from the Sarawak government, one way or the other before the next elections here.

Is it on the agenda?

Does anybody know if the subject of local government elections for Sarawak is on the agenda of the Special Cabinet Committee? Please share information.

If the federal government is not keen on the elections, thus ignoring YB Zuraida’s opinion, what is there to prevent Sarawak from conducting the local elections here?

What does our representative on the Local Government Council in Kuala Lumpur have to say?

Formula: coalition government

The fear of domination by one racial group over the other racial groups in terms of political clout has been tempered by the introduction of a mechanism called a coalition government.

After each general election, political parties representing the various racial groups in the country form the government of the day. Any country must have some form of government.

This collection of parties forming government in Malaya since Merdeka in 1957 and since the Federation of Malaysia (Malaya, Singapore – until August 1965, North Borneo, and Sarawak) has been the norm without interruption.

It is not the ideal form of government but it works if Malaysians themselves want it to work. In this respect, the choice of quality leaders to head the country is vitally important.

What better source for quality leaders is there than the regular process of electing the most capable, hence the relevance and the need to regularly elect capable people, to hold power at several levels – the local government, Sarawak government, and the federal government.

By the end of the video show, Hadi had toned down his stance on the elections by saying that if elections were held at all, all the taxi drivers and the labourers must be able to vote too – which, to the best of my knowledge, they do as a matter of course.

Perhaps, YB Hadi Awang may one day change his mind and see the importance of local government elections for those states under PAS rule. There is no way that DAP will ever be able to dominate the councils in the states like Terengganu and Kelantan if local council elections were held in those states.

Forgetting about Peninsular Malaysia in terms of local government elections, let us in Sarawak do what is good for us: restore the rights to hold elections to local councils.

Where are those Sarawakians who claim to be fighting for Sarawak’s rights? Say something.

Are not local government and elections to the various councils our rights under whatever documents or agreements relating to the formation of Malaysia?

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