EC rules no go for third vote
By Neville Spykerman
SHAH ALAM, March 23 — The Election Commission (EC) has formally informed Selangor that it cannot restore the third vote.
Officials from the state told The Malaysian Insider they had received an 11-page reply from the EC to their earlier inquiry on whether local council elections can be held.
According to the EC, provisions or aspects of law governing local elections under the Local Government Election Act 1960 had been abolished and neither the commission nor the state had the authority to restore the third vote.
The EC will hold a press conference on the matter tomorrow.
Local government elections were suspended in 1965 but earlier this month Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim (picture) said he would write to the EC on the possibility of holding them again in the state.
Selangor was following in the footsteps of fellow Pakatan Rakyat-ruled state Penang, which made a formal request to the EC on March 4 for local elections to be held for both the Penang and Seberang Prai municipal councils.
The Penang government maintains under Article 113(4) of the Federal Constitution, federal or state law may authorise the EC to conduct elections other than parliamentary or state elections.
Restoration of the third vote was a campaign promise of PR component parties, which comprises PKR, DAP and PAS, during Election 2008.
The Barisan Nasional (BN) federal government had already indicated it was not interested in restoring local council elections as it argues that they will not necessarily improve public services.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had said that since local government elections were abolished so long ago, there was no need to restore them as it would create more politicking at the local level.
Local government elections were first held in 1951 before Merdeka but abolished in 1965 during the Confrontation with Indonesia.
Then-Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman promised they would be restored after the situation improved.
The federal government under Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had in 2007 turned down a demand by the DAP to restore local elections.
Since the suspension of local elections, council seats have become a political reward to loyalists of the ruling party.