Monday, March 17, 2008

Local Government Elections

It's time to get rid of political patronage.

It is a little sad, but unsurprising that within days of getting elected, I have received calls on how I can use my influence to appoint city or municipal councillors. There were of course those who were genuine about making positive changes to local city council, but quite clearly, there were those seeking political favours in exchange for support.

I spoke a little about the above in my interview with Malaysiakini here.

I can imagine the type of calls, my recent elected colleagues must be getting as well from others on the same issue. This only strengthens my resolve that the law to enable local government elections must be drafted, debated and passed by the states in which DAP plays a role before the next general elections. And I'm glad DAP is taking the lead by emphasising on the need to bring back local government elections, particularly in Penang where the DAP-led coalition government is steaming ahead.

We must overcome whatever "grey" areas which are in conflict between the state and federal laws.

Only with democratically elected local councillors, will they be directly accountable to the people, instead of to the party which "awards" these positions. And more importantly, only then will they make decisions on behalf of the city council which are in the interest of the rakyat, instead of the interest of the political masters, personal or otherwise.

Certainly, I campaigned strongly for a democratic local government during the election period and I'll certainly do my best within the Parliament and within the Party to ensure that the voters will get the fair deal they deserve from the local councils.

And in the interim, while awaiting for local council elections, we will push for openness, transparency and competition in all local council accounts as well as tenders. We want to transform local councils from one beset with the culture of secrecy (something to hide) to one which engages the electorate.

Wish me luck! ;-)
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