Set a timetable for restoration of local government elections


Press Statement
by Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew

(Petaling Jaya, Monday):  The scandal of Abdul Kudus-MPAJ has highlighted the seriousness of unaccountability and lack of transparency of the local councils in the country. Many people are fed up with the lackadaisical (tidak apa) attitude, poor service and level of corruption and abuse of power on the part of local council officials. And there is really nothing to shout about as far as the performance of the councillors is concerned.

The call for restoration of local government elections is getting more and more support from the people, but no one will believe that the present set of BN Federal Government leaders would give it a go, at least not in the near future. This is simply because they have no confidence in winning such local elections.

But even countries like Afghanistan, Iraq and China practice local government elections. How long more could the BN leaders prevent the democratisation process from taken place in Malaysia? Malaysia cannot be called a true and complete democracy as long as we do not even have local government elections.

May be we should start with the election of mayor for Kuala Lumpur. Or start appointing some elected representatives from the opposition parties into the DBKL and other town councils.

It's therefore pertinent to set a timetable for the eventual goal of local government elections. We need to start from somewhere, and set a date for such reform.

We could target the next general election as a starting point. We need a stronger opposition in order to achieve real checks and balances. Only a much stronger support and mandate given to the opposition could possibly drive the ruling parties to seriously consider the restoration of local government elections.
Once we have a bigger voice from the opposition, Malaysians can then start calling for appointment of elected representatives of both ruling and opposition parties into various local councils.

We should also target for the election of mayor for Kuala Lumpur by the end of 2004. If cities like New York, Paris, Tokyo and London can have elections for their mayors, why can't we? Otherwise we should stop shouting "Malaysia Boleh" once and for all.

Such reforms and new measures may not be able to bring about great changes to local councils overnight. But these would certainly bring positive changes and benefits in the long run.

We may then be a able to prevent crazy things like spending millions on fancy street lights and lamp-poles (in Putrajaya and the rest of the country), mega billboards featuring the portraits of MB and other BN elected representatives all over Selangor, special uniforms for YDP and councillors for MPK (Klang), plastic palm trees and metallic structures for parks and gardens in Subang Jaya (aren't we live in a tropical country?), approving a hotel next to a roundabout in SS2 the list is endless.

And we probably need not to wait for too long before the rubbish was collected, the clogged drains were cleared, the potholes were filled once we have greater checks and balances in these local councils.

With better enforcement and planning all round, the ordinary folks may even have cleaner toilets to use when we visit restaurants and coffee shops, better football fields and basketball courts for our children, more street lights for better security at nights, and even less traffic jams, if one realises that it's the duty and responsibility of your local council to plan and maintain road systems.

Before we can restore local government elections, we should start calling the local councils to save taxpayers money by taking down the mega bill boards that carry email and telephone numbers serving no purpose (because no one would answer your calls or emails), stop adding on more fancy and decorative lights, and stop sending big delegations to South Africa for the so-called study tours.


* Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew, DAP National Publicity Secretary