Penang’s petition for local elections postponed again

By Opalyn Mok

GEORGE TOWN, June 5 — The Federal Court has again postponed to June 27 Penang’s application for leave for its petition to bring back local council elections.

The application for leave for the Federal Court to hear the state government and former Aliran president P.Ramakrishnan’s petition to declare that Penang has a right to hold local government elections was supposed to be heard on May 29 but Federal Court judge Hassan Lah postponed the hearing to next month.

Local government, traffic management and flood mitigation state executive councillor Chow Kon Yeow said the application for leave is the state’s last chance to reintroduce local elections.

“If the application for leave is denied, then there will be no more legal recourse for the state government to reinstate local government elections,” he said in a press conference earlier today.

He disagreed with Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan’s (picture) statement that local government elections are unnecessary and are not the best option for local councils.

Rahman had also said the current system was more than enough as the best candidates were picked and if they did not perform, they are replaced.

“The local government elections is to allow the voters of Penang to elect their local councillors,” Chow said.

He said the Penang state government will not be deterred by Rahman’s statement and that it will continue to fight for local council elections to be reinstated.

Malaysians used to elect their local councillors between 1951 and 1965 before the elections were suspended in 1965 because of the Indonesian Confrontation.

Chow said the then-prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman had promised the Dewan Rakyat that local government elections would be restored once the Confrontation was over.

The Confrontation ended in 1966 but local government elections were not restored.

In March, the Penang state government and Ramakrishnan had filed an application for leave to petition the Federal Court to declare that the Penang state legislature has a right to hold local government elections in accordance with the Local Government Elections (Penang Isdland and Province Wellesley) Enactment 2012 which was passed by the state assembly in May last year.

On June 27, the Federal Court will hear the state government and Ramakrishnan’s application for leave to file the petition to challenge sections 10 and 15 of the Local Government Act 1976, which prevent the holding of local government elections.

If the court allows the application, the petition will then be heard before a Bench of the Federal Court on another date.

The Penang Pakatan Rakyat government has been taking steps to try to restore local government elections in the state to return the third vote to the people.

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