When the Kangar Municipal Council tried to terminate the unsatisfactory services of a privatised rubbish collection contractor, it was told that the contractor had a 22-year contract with a federal entity. Francis Loh describes the stinking situation.
Of late there has been talk of setting up a media council. Zaharom Nain asserts that a council with teeth is needed to hold the media accountable to the rakyat.. The repressive legal environment and increasing concentration of media ownership have to be tackled as well.
Bring back local council elections! That’s the theme of Tan Pek Leng’s cover story exploring the quest to reclaim our democracy. If the Local Government Act stands in the way, then it must go, she says; it is not because we are lawless but because we value our democracy.
Actually, a team of legal experts has advised the Penang government that it is legally possible to hold local government elections, reports Francis Loh. The Penang government will now have to decide whether to seek a court declaration on the issue.
Thailand was recently elected to the UN Human Rights Council, but that hasn’t impressed the Asian Legal Resource Centre, which is concerned with the country’s non-compliance with its international human rights obligations.
What has aroused the angry reaction of Malaysian Muslims in the case of this fatwa is the fact that it was issued unilaterally without any consultation with society. And this reflects the extent to which the Fatwa Council is in fact a body that is not answerable to the Malaysian public, observes Aliran member Farish Noor.
Feeling more empowered than ever before after the shock opposition win in Penang, civil society activists and other concerned individuals came together to discuss and agree on key areas of concern and proposals for submission to the state government. Anil Netto reports on the historic Penang Forum.
One of the major election issues this time around has been the demand for the restoration of local council elections. Local councils have become unaccountable, indifferent to people’s
woes, inefficient in their management and intolerable in the way
services are provided. Councillors become arrogant, abuse their powers,
serve themselves, not the public, and are sometimes the source of
corruption. Think about that as you go out to vote.
Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi must pay heed to the numerous complaints against local councils and restore local democracy to the country, says K George.