Urges BN to acquiesce to carry out local government elections in the MPPP and MPSP
The Penang state government has no choice but to take the Federal Government and the Election Commission to Federal Court to compel the restoration of the 3rd vote and local government elections in the Penang Municipal Council(MPPP) and Seberang Perai Municipal Council(MPSP). Prominent lawyer Tommy Thomas will be the state government's counsel to file the action at the Federal court over the next 2 weeks.
The Penang State Government urges BN to acquiesce to carry out local government elections in the Penang Island Municipal Council(MPPP) and Seberang Perai Municipal Council(MPSP) to avoid Penang following other PR states in suing the federal government to protect and promote democracy and the people's rights. Doing so would mean that Penang would be the 3rd state to sue the BN Federal government after Kelantan and Selangor.
Restoring the "third vote" has long been a fundamental demand and commitment of the Penang State Government since its election in 2008. This aspiration of allowing Penangites the right not only to elect their MPs, State Assemblypersons and Chief Ministers should also be extended to local councilors and the Mayor. Local government election was banned by the Federal government on 1.3.1965 and the BN had failed to deliver its promise to restore local government elections.
To realise this commitment the Penang PR state government passed the Local Government Elections(Penang Island and Province Wellesley) Enactment 2012 or LGE at the Penang state Assembly on 9.5.2012. Consent was granted by the Penang Governor on 15.6.2012 in accordance with Article 26 of the Penang state constitution.
When the new PR state government took over and communicated this intention to restore the 3rd vote, the Election Commission in January last year rejected the state government's request on the grounds that there was no such law in force compelling such conduct of elections. When the LGE was approved by the Penang state Assembly, Minister of Housing and Local Government dismissed the Penang state government's effort as unconstitutional and refused to comply with the state government's request.
The State Government takes the position that local government elections are a State matter under the Ninth Schedule of the Federal Constitution, and that the State Legislature has jurisdiction to provide for the holding of local elections under the Ninth Schedule and Article 113(4) of the Federal Constitution.
The State Government has informed the Election Commission that the Enactment would come into force in Penang by 31 January 2013, however State Government has failed to obtain any commitment from the Election Commission to conduct the elections to the MPPP and MPSP in accordance with the Enactment.
In line with its commitment to restore the third vote, the State Government has now instructed its lawyers to apply to the Federal Court for leave to seek declarations that section 15 of the Local Government Act 1976 (federal law enacted by Parliament), which purported to abolish local government elections throughout Malaysia, is invalid or inoperative in Penang, and that the 2012 Enactment passed by the Penang State Legislature validly provides for the Election Commission to conduct local government elections in Penang.
The Penang state government will together with former Aliran President Ramakrishnan be the two plaintiffs in this historic suit against the Federal government and the Election Commission at the Federal Court. Ramakrishnan has long cherished a dream to vote his own local councilors.
On 14 July 2009, YB Chow Kon Yeow, the State EXCO for Local Government and Traffic Management, wrote to the Federal Government to ask for local government elections to be put on the agenda of the National Council of Local Government, but this request was rejected.
On 11 August 2009, the State Legislative Assembly passed a resolution calling upon the Federal authorities to take action to reinstate local government elections, but this resolution was again rejected.
On 4 March 2010, Penang State Government wrote to the Election Commission asking it to conduct local government elections to the MPPP and MPSP under the Local Government Elections Act 1960, but the Election Commission refused.
On 18 January 2012, the State Government exempted both the MPPP and the MPSP from section 15 of the Local Government Act 1976, which had rendered inoperative all legal provisions relating to local government elections.
On 9 May 2012, the State Legislative Assembly passed the Local Government Elections (Penang Island and Province Wellesley) Enactment 2012, providing for the Election Commission to hold local government elections.
On 18 December 2012, the State Government wrote to the Election Commission informing it that the Enactment would be enforced as from 31 January 2013.