NGO calls for guidelines on selection of councillors

  • Community
  • Wednesday, 30 Apr 2008

THE Selangor Government has been urged to announce its criteria and policies on the appointment of local councillors.

The Coalition for Good Governance (CGG), an informal group of 55 civil society organisations (CSOs), met Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim recently to discuss matters related to the governance of the state.

“So far, the state government has not announced any clear guidelines on how the councillors are chosen,” Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) executive director Yap Swee Seng told a press conference in Petaling Jaya yesterday.

The coalition has earlier expressed disappointment with the Penang Government for appointing only seven non-partisan representatives in its local council, compared with 36 party members.

“Of that seven, five represent the business community. We feel that this is a non-democratic approach as there was no public consultation,” Yap said.

The CGG also wants the Pakatan Rakyat-led state governments in Selangor, Perak, Penang, Kedah and Kelantan to launch their respective roadmaps for local council elections.

The CGG said it did not agree with some statements made by some Pakatan Rakyat politicians that local council elections could only be held with the approval of the Federal Government.

According to Malaysian Bar human rights committee co-deputy chairman Andrew Khoo, although Section 15 of the Local Government Act 1976 had abolished local government elections, Section 1(4) suggests that the state governments have the right to exempt any area within any local authority area from all or any of the provisions of the act.

“This means that you can exclude local authority areas from the provision of Section 15 (abolishment of local government elections). What they need is to pass a resolution in the state assembly to set out the areas which are going to be exempted,” Khoo said.

Khoo said the general election results indicated that the people wanted change and were looking for greater transparency and accountability.

“We want people who are elected by the people who actually live in the area so that the representative is accountable to the residents,” Khoo said.

Yap said the structures for local council elections should be in place no later than 2010 so that elections could take place by 2011.

The CGG also urged the Barisan Nasional federal government to introduce local council elections immediately in the other states and the federal territories as a concrete sign that it was sincere in fighting corruption and mismanagement at the local council level.

According to Yap, the meeting with Khalid was positive.

Among the issues discussed were:

  • Institutionalisation of meetings between the mentri besar and the CGG and the setting-up of task forces to deal with issues;
  • Freedom of information to allow the public easy access to information pertaining to matters of public interest;
  • Create an office of the Ombudsman for Good Governance in Selangor to investigate allegations of mismanagement, corruption and misuse of public funds; and
  • Ensure easy access to public facilities.
Yap said Khalid had agreed to set up task forces to deal with issues like urban poverty, workers, orang asli, women, children, youths and the environment.

Also present at the press conference were EmPower member Pook Li Yoon and Komas (Pusat Komunikasi Masyarakat) coordinator Arul Prakkash.

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