Sorry, Mr PAS President, I beg to differ

By Mohamed Hanipa Maidin
Jan 25, 2015

MP SPEAKS Is it true that local government elections would lead to instability or May 13? I seriously doubt such a weird proposition, regardless whoever made that statement.

After all, local government’s elections were in this country before BN government unjustifiably abolished them.

In fact, those elections predated May 13. Thus relying on such an unfortunate event to flatly reject the revival of such elections is indeed mind boggling to say the least.

Globally speaking, local government’s election is a universal phenomenon especially in developed countries including Muslim countries.

In fact in the United States where federalism is widely practised almost all of public offices’ appointments are made via election. Thus we see the district attorney and the states’ judges in America have been electorally appointed until now.

In the Muslim world local government’s elections are not alien ideas. Two former Iranian and Turkish prime ministers namely Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Recep Tayyip Erdogan were the byproducts of mayoral elections.

They were elected by urbanites in Tehran and Istanbul respectively.

Joko Widodo (left) was a mayor who was appointed via direct election before he assumed his premiership.

The Indonesian Parliament received fierce criticism when it voted for the abolishment of direct election of mayor and governor in 2014.

The law was backed by the coalition behind the then former presidential candidate, Probowo Subianto.

It is interesting to note that the proponents of such laws never cited the issue of instability as their justification to scrap the elections.

On the other hand the issue of hefty costs and corruption were the main reasons of such a move.

Accountability and transparency

Islamists should not be unduly worried about the term ‘election’. After all ‘election’ is not inherently a dirty word. On the contrary local government elections imply accountability and transparency in the public office.

Those two criteria are the hallmarks of good governance. Be that as it may, local election is an efficacious mechanism to promote those ideals.

PAS’ President Abdul Hadi Awang is duly concerned that local government’s election would cause instability. In his view the local government would be inundated by Chinese councillors in certain big cities if elections are held.

It would, in his view, become the prime source of instability and ultimately lead to a bloody tragedy such as May 13. And if such a tragedy takes place in future, the real culprit would be local government’s election.

With the greatest respect the PAS president’s view is unfortunately misplaced. It presupposes that all big cities in this country are dominated by a single ethnic group, namely the Chinese.

He presumes that the Malays would not be duly represented in Chinese dominated urban population.

Using his own logic, the Chinese would be equally unproportionately represented in Malay belt states in the event local government election is duly revived.

So long Malaysians elect any Malaysians in any local government’s election we should not be unduly worry. Let such unwarranted worriesome feelings be reserved to Perkasa, Isma or Utusan.

If Chinese were not worried to elect PAS candidates in the last general election why would Malays be worried if they are represented by Chinese, Indian or Malay councillors?

What the Malaysians need to be afraid of is having inefficient, corrupt and irresponsible councillors whatever races they represent.

To be honest I really hope any PAS’ leaders would be the last person to succumb to racial lines in promoting any idea to any issue, cropping up in this country.

It is just not right and goes against the very notion of PAS for all which it seeks to promote.

After all May 13 is not PAS’ political baggage. PAS should be proud and stand tall in that when May 13 happened, Kelantan, governed by PAS at that time, was completely free from any racial insurgency.

Why would the PAS’ president, all of sudden, need to use that baggage to undermine a noble idea – the revival of local goverment elections?

May 13 would have not happened if BN graciously conceded defeat in the general election then and respected the people’s mandate of choosing other political parties than BN to govern the country.

It is submitted that the merits of local government’s election outweighs its demerits thus it should necessarily become the common policy of Pakatan.

The benefits of such an election are too many to be simply ignored.

If at all there are concerns that certain ethnics would be marginalised and not duly represented in the local government the remedy to such concerns is not by rejecting the local government’s election.

Certainly there are other effective ways of addressing such grievances such as having a quota system, if necessary, for the appointment of certain numbers of councillors.

They may be appointed by way of other mechanism. The local government’s election should not become a sacrificial lamb for any unwarranted fears of the past.

Election has been the language of democracy and good governance.


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