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Ka Ting must tell the truth to the Malaysian public whether the government is committed in implementing the 12-point plan adopted at the Aberdeen Agenda: Commonwealth Principles on Good Practice for Local Democracy and Good Governance

Speech- at the Seputeh “Restore the 3rd Vote” Dinner
by Loke Siew Fook

(Kuala Lumpur, Sunday):
About 3 weeks ago, Malaysia was the host to a very important regional forum, the Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF) Asia-Pacific regional symposium. It was an irony that such a forum which called for the restoration and strengthening of local democracy is hosted by a country which totally ignores it.

Furthermore, the symposium was opened by none other than our Minister of Housing and Local Government Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting who himself has never committed to bring back the local government election in Malaysia.

The symposium although was a very important regional event for Malaysia has come and gone without much media and public notice. I must admit that I personally was unaware of the symposium until I read Dr. Goh Ban Lee’s “Local Counsel” column in The Sun on 19th July.

I further check the CLGF’s website at and it surprised me to notice that Malaysia is one of the member countries of CLGF and it has committed to the 12-points principles adopted at the Aberdeen Agenda.

The twelve principles for local democracy and good governance are:

  • Constitutional and legal recognition for local democracy
  • Political freedom to elect local representatives
  • Partnership and co-operation between spheres of government
  • Principle of subsidiarity and appropriate powers for local government
  • Citizens should be able to participate in decision-making
  • Local government should be accountable to the community
  • Open and transparent decision-making
  • Scrutiny of the executive
  • Inclusiveness of all sectors of the community, particularly women
  • Adequate and equitable resource allocation for local government to fulfil its mandate
  • Services should be accessible to all, reflecting the diverse needs of  the community
  • Continuous capacity-building for effective leadership including through international partnerships.

The Agenda was drawn up at the Commonwealth Local Government Conference 2005 held in Aberdeen from 15-17 March and endorsed at the CLGF General Meeting of members on Friday 18 March. CLGF members throughout the Commonwealth are now being asked to implement these principles and CLGF will develop its own work programme to support them.

Nobody seems to know who has represented Malaysia in the CLGF meeting in Aberdeen last March and who has endorsed the Agenda on behalf of the Malaysian government. As the Minister of Housing and Local Government, Ka Ting must publicly tell the Malaysian public which officer has attended the meeting on behalf of the government and what are the plans being implemented by the government in accordance to the 12 principles adopted.

Is this another case of government officers going on “official holiday trip” without knowing what were being discussed in the forum or the government practise of “saying one thing to the international community but implementing another to the local community”?

There are many questions to be answered by Ka Ting as far as CLGF is concerned and the Barisan Nasional government can no longer pretend that they are upholding democracy in the eyes of the international community but in the same time depriving the very fundamental rights of Malaysians to elect their local counsellors.




* Loke Siew Fook, DAPSY National Secretary and ADUN for Kawasan Lobak, Negeri Sembilan

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