January 30, 2015 by Suara Kebenaran
GEORGE TOWN: While some believe that local government elections will provide a stronger check and balance on state executive councillors, others argued this is more a myth than reality.
Penang Citizens Awareness Chant Group (Chant) advisor Yan Lee however believes that the third vote would offer an electoral stage for independent candidates with no political inclinations or affiliations to become representatives of the people.
“Independent councillors are highly likely to not ‘kowtow’ to political parties and their agenda, unlike under the current appointment system,” Yan Lee told FMT here today.
He said local council elections would provide the people with another chance to exercise their rights and to be a check and balance to the all powerful state executive councillors, especially those in the state planning committee (SPC).
“Currently appointed councillors are conflicted at being political appointees,” he said making reference to PAS treasurer and MPPP councillor Iszuree Ibrahim who was sacked last November after he allegedly spoke against the Pakatan Rakyat state government’s pro-developer policies in Penang.
However, state Barisan Nasional executive secretary Azizi Safar countered such views as being more a political myth than reality.
“Claims that elected councillors would be vocal for people’s interests against their own party interests are more a myth than reality,” stressed Azizi.
He also argued that the possibility of independent candidates being elected as councillors was remote if local government elections were held given that Malaysians generally voted for party candidates rather than individuals.
He added that even if independent councillors were elected, they would be outnumbered and overwhelmed by party-based representatives.
He said party-based councillors would surely uphold their party agenda and interests at all costs notwithstanding whether they were elected or not.
Indeed, he believed that council polls, like the appointment system, would just provide another powerful platform for popular parties to exert more control on local affairs.
He cited the example of current elected state assemblymen and parliamentarians, who were subservient to their respective party leadership and agenda.
“When councillors are elected under party banners, they have to toe the party line.
“Where will be the so-called independence of councillors then?, he asked.
He argued that a third vote would only aggravate already worsening polarisation, politicking and bickering and be a waste of public resources, which could be utilised to benefit the people in other ways.
Myth or reality, Yan Lee however argued that local polls would uphold the people’s democratic right to choose councillors because local councils collect and manage their taxes and public funds.
“We should leave it to the people to decide on whether they want to retain status quo or provide more checks and balances in local councils.
“Either way, the people still get the chance to make their democratic choices.
“That’s democracy,” said Yan Lee.