Importance of local government elections | Selangor Times
Issue 118


Importance of local government elections
Writer: Azmi Sharom
Published: Fri, 23 Nov 2012

THE Batu Caves condominium project has raised some interesting talking points. The most obvious of these, the one taken up by the many comments I have read on the internet, is the sheer bald faced cheek of the BN government.

For the Prime Minister to promise the ending of an unpopular project if his party is elected into power beggars belief when it is the local authority which was appointed by his very own party which gave the approval in the first place. 

Then for the MCA to chip in by saying that the Pakatan state government was at fault for not stopping the project themselves is akin to a thief saying the theft is the fault of the victim because he did nothing to stop it happening.

But then, this level of ridiculousness is to be expected.  Let’s look at something a bit more constructive than the shamelessness of some politicos.

For me, this whole fiasco serves as greater proof that there has to be a complete overhaul of our local governments. 

Firstly we need to bring back local government elections. The current system of appointment of councillors by the state government is simply not democratic. 

There is also the danger of councillors being beholden to the ones who appointed them.

Instead they really should be beholden to the people who live in the area. 

Furthermore, although I know there are many local authorities and councillors who work very hard and make themselves accessible to their “constituents”, what is truly needed is the institutionalising of a system where they are structurally answerable to the people.

There are far too many cases of local authorities acting in a high handed manner simply because they know that ultimately there is very little that the ordinary folk can do. The argument that you indirectly select your local government by the state government you vote for does not hold water.

This is because the job of the state government is very different from the job of the local government. There are broader political and policy issues that come into play when choosing your state representative. A local representative need not even be affiliated with any party.

What people want are councillors who are dedicated and work hard on local issues. State-wide, let alone national issues, does not come into the equation of tree trimming, drain clearing and garbage collection.

But even the reintroduction of local government elections is not enough. There has to be a total review of the Local Government Act with all undemocratic and un-transparent provisions removed. 

As it is local governments can work in secrecy and this is because the Act allows them to.

The Selangor State’s introduction of the Freedom of information Bill is a good thing but by itself it is not enough. 

The entire local government machinery has to be opened up as much as possible so that there can be close scrutiny by the public.

At all levels of government in Malaysia, Federal, state and local, what is clear is that the future depends on the opening of democratic spaces and the democratisation of government machinery. 

Too many cases of corruption and incompetence have been coming up. People are people, they are fallible, they are greedy and they are weak. 

What we need is a system where they can’t succumb to temptation without being discovered and without being punished for their transgressions.


 Selangor Times



Also by Azmi Sharom:

Ethics, morals needed more than ever

SOMETIMES reading the news makes one rush to the bathroom for a long hot shower. 


We live in warped logic

DON’T get it. I just don’t get it.

Greater professionalism in police

Peaceful is as peaceful does

1AI was sitting in Merdeka Stadium on Saturday with a couple of friends, watching the venerable old lady of independence fill up with people, I playfully wondered if  photographers from the mainstream media had been there earlier to take a photo of an empty stadium to be used as “evidence” that no one turned up.

Rotating parties for better governance

IN my last article I wrote about the importance of changing the system of local government that we have. By that I meant we should reintroduce local government elections as well as overhaul the Local Government Act in order to ensure a more transparent and accountable local authority.

Can bully boy tactics win?

Oh what a glorious night! Twenty-three years of humiliation, with nothing but self-deprecating humour to comfort oneself, finally laid to rest on that one glorious night.

New wine, old wineskin

It is telling that during the Suhakam inquiry into the Bersih 3.0 rally a police officer revealed when questioned that he did not know that the right to assemble was constitutionally guaranteed for the people of this country.

Really, you can’t make it up

Rais Yatim should be given a present from people like myself who write current affairs articles. 

Scripts for Tinseltown

Hollywood, having run out of ideas, has turned to Malaysia for inspiration. Below are two potential blockbuster movies which draw their plots from the pages of Malaysia’s newspapers.

And so it begins...

The scare tactics that are so beloved by the ruling coalition. We have seen it before of course. Like an evil babysitter, the BN has constantly thrilled at telling horror stories to keep us in our place.

Only the uncaring will not care

If the government is not quaking in their boots after last weekend, then they must be in total denial.

Informed, not phony, reasons work better

There have been two consistent arguments used by the Barisan to persuade the electorate to vote for them. The first and more popular claim is that we should vote for them because they have experience.

Nation of idiots in the making

We are on the brink of becoming a nation of idiots.

When silence implies consent

Hope Springs eternal

THIS year, the most amazing political event to have occurred in the world could very arguably be the Arab Spring. Popular uprisings all over the Middle East have seen dictatorships fall like ten-pins in the centre of of a camel race. The process continues still.


Lack of respect for the Constitution

It’s quite apt that it was during a mass circumcision ceremony that Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz made his announcement that Section 27 of the Police Act 1967 is going to be removed. We, the people of Malaysia, just like the poor little nippers at that ceremony, are going to be rid of something.











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