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"Third vote" nothing to do with race

  • The government must take a big stride forward, reform the existing system and deepen democratic practices, and not to be held back by antiquated preoccupations.

Sin Chew Daily

Housing and local government minister Zuraida Kamaruddin said earlier that the government would look into the viability of holding local government elections within half a year, with the hope of implementing local government elections in three years' time.

The public have been looking forward to this, and hope the government will return this "third vote" to the rakyat.

Unfortunately the latest development has been rather disappointing. Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad pointed out recently that the Pakatan Harapan government would not hold local government elections because this could widen the disparity between the urban and rural residents while triggering conflicts among Malaysians of different backgrounds.

Even though restoring local government elections has not been included in Pakatan Harapan's election manifesto, many PH leaders have been promoting this "third vote" and have pushed so hard for its eventual reinstatement.

As for DAP, the party included local government elections in its 2008 general election and Penang state election manifestos

PH never had the experience of running the federal government prior to GE14 and it is therefore understandable that it was unable to put this advocacy into practice. Nevertheless, more than half a year after taking control of the central government, by right the coalition now should take the initiative to materialize what it used to advocate before instead of postponing or even reversing it with some kinds of excuses.

How can we look to the government to protect the interest of Malaysians in the future if it keeps reversing its policies by giving all kinds of excuses?

Mahathir has rejected local government elections on the grounds that they could widen racial differences and trigger inter-community conflicts.

This reflects an untimely and inappropriate racial mindset. Sadly, this country is still unable to completely free itself from the shackles of racism.

That said, New Malaysia should not submit itself to racial problems and use them as an excuse to hold back significant reforms perceived as a boon to the development of democracy and human rights.

As a matter of fact, restoring local government elections is a matter related to democracy and governance, not a racist issue at all. In no way should the government peg the issue to race.

If we were able to hold local government elections in the 1950s and 60s, we see no reasons why we can't do it today.

Local government elections should more accurately reflect the aspirations of the people and will inspire the local authorities to execute their duties more eficiently. The government should look into this with an open and positive attitude instead of slamming the door behind it.

In reaction to the prime minister's statement, DAP has said it will continue to push for the reinstatement of local government elections.

As for the ordinary citizens, it is our hope that the PH government will take a big stride forward, reform the existing system and deepen democratic practices, and not to be held back by antiquated preoccupations.

 

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