Historic local council polls held in Penang

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The Penang Forum 3 elections have been a three-in-one process to learn the issues, listen to candidates and vote for civil society representatives to the MPPP and MPSP, says the Penang Forum Steering Committee.

Voters casting their ballots enthusiastically at the Penang Forum 3 polls

More than 300 people participated in an election organised by Penang Forum 3 (PF3) on 14 November 2010. The event was organised to elect five persons each to the MPPP and MPSP. These ten will then be nominated by PF3 as civil society representatives to the two local authorities.

Prior to voting, the participants listened to talks by a serving Councillor and by other Penang Forum representatives about issues related to local council governance. Then they listened to short speeches by all the 24 contestants.

The most interesting aspect of the day’s event was its 3-in-1 feature: an opportunity to learn about the local government issues, to meet and question the candidates, and only then to vote.

Elected to the MPPP were:

  • Teo Lee Ken
  • Lim Mah Hui
  • Chin Khuan Sui
  • Loh Swee Heong
  • Dalbinder Singh

Elected to the MPSP were:

  • Tiun Ling Ta
  • Sivagurupatham a/l S Vadivelu
  • Teng Kim Chew
  • Krishnan a/l Samiah
  • Ung Teow Hong

The event was held in the Penang Chinese Girls School Alumni Hall (directly opposite St Nicholas), along Jalan Bagan Jermal. The meeting opened with a forum chaired by former Penang State Government Exco Member Datuk Dr Toh Kin Woon.

The first speaker was Ms Lim Kah Cheng, a three-term MPPP Councillor. She briefed those present about the structure of local government in Penang, about the workings of the MPPP and MPSP, and about the role of a Councillor. She warned that there would be lots of work to do but that the work was satisfying because one would be helping to improve the everyday lives of Penangites.

The second talk was by En Ahmad Chik who spoke on the Penang Forum and of the Forum’s expectations of would-be Councillors. Above all, these Councillors must prioritise the interests of the rakyat and uphold the CAT principles (competency, accountability and transparency). Ahmad called all present to endorse the Penang State Government’s ‘no plastic policy’ which the audience enthusiastically supported by raising their hands and shouting out a resounding ‘Yes’.

Following these talks, the candidates were introduced. Each was allowed to address the hall briefly. The audience also asked the candidates several questions. Earlier, outside the hall, some of the candidates and their supporters were canvassing for votes. Some had put up posters and distributed multi-coloured pamphlets.

Voting began at noon and ran smoothly. Nothing untoward occurred.

At 1.00pm, the counting of votes was conducted on stage in front of the contestants. P Ramakrishnan, president of Aliran, and Ahmad Chik, Penang Heritage Trust Council Member and Penang Forum representative, had been appointed as ‘Election Commissioners’. According to them, the voting and the entire election process had been ‘free, fair and transparent’. They thanked all present for their cooperation

YB Chow Kon Yeow, the Penang State Government Exco Member for Local Government and Transportation, was present to witness the last part of this pioneering event by Penang’s civil society organisations.

Penang Forum expectations of the elected

Prior to 14 November, all contestants had declared that they had read, understood and supported the principles contained in the Penang Forum Declaration, first adopted in April 2008.

Hence the elected are expected to promote the rights of marginalised groups (including women, workers, rural communities, youth, senior citizens, the disabled, homeless, as well as migrants and refugees); to protect Penang’s environment and preserve its heritage; to stress balanced, integrated and sustainable planning; to address and respond to urban services complaints; and to cater to the general interests of the entire Penang society, not just those interests of specific interest groups to which they might individually be affiliated.

All candidates, including the elected, were also informed of the following clause in the Local Government Act 1976, Section 10(2) about eligibility and suitability which reads: “Councillors of the local authority…shall be persons ordinarily resident in the local authority area who in the opinion of the State Authority have wide experience in local government affairs or who have achieved distinction in any profession, commerce or industry, or are otherwise capable of representing the interests of their communities in the local authority area”.

Indeed, all contestants including the ten elected, had declared that they do not hold office in any political party or in any chamber of commerce; have not been convicted as a criminal or declared a bankrupt; and that they do not belong to any association that agitates for racial supremacy or racial hatred.

Penang Forum

Penang Forum is a coalition of more than 40 Penang-based civil society organizations who first came together in April 2008. The steering committee comprises representatives from Aliran, Malayan Nature Society, Penang Heritage Trust, Persatuan Orang Cacat Anggota Malaysia, Suaram Penang, the Tg Bungah Residents Association, Taman Sri Nibong Residents Association, the Women’s Centre for Change, etc.

More information about Penang Forum and PG3 can be obtained from penangforum.net
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Penang Forum Steering Committee
14 Nov 2010

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ByeByeDAP
ByeByeDAP
26 Dec 2010 11.32pm

Dear AgreeToDisagree,
Dont worry…
DAP (together with PKR) will be history in the next election..
Bye Bye DAP.

Alan
Alan
16 Nov 2010 9.54am

I know this is incomplete,because THERE IS NO LOCAL COUNCIL ELECTION, THANKS TO UMNO. If there is, UMNO WILL LOSE BADLY, as Local COuncil are formed based on populationdensity, rather than parliamentary/adun consitutency that gives UMNO the advantage.

Fair Play
Fair Play
15 Nov 2010 8.39am

Hi everyone, hope all is well and good. Just my two cents’ worth here. I don’t believe it should matter whether a particular ethnic group dominates, is not represented, or barely present. What really matters is that those elected are able to carry out their responsibilities, regardless of ethnicity or creed.

“Might is NOT Right”

AgreeToDisagree
15 Nov 2010 7.08am

This is a sham election! 300 people out of over 1.5 million?!? How does this count as democratic? Was there even provision to allow for 10,000 to vote? And if there was 10,000 would not even count!

The lack of mechanism provided by DAP to allow every person in every district to vote makes this an extremely tilted affair, a closed election!

I propose the entire election be carried out in a proper manner at once with ballot boxes in every district and constituency! Any NGOs ready to file suit? Where is the State Governor??? This is a farce! Bloody murder of democracy!

AgreeToDisagree
15 Nov 2010 7.49am

How should this Local Council Election have been done?

1) Put out adverts (as they did) asking state citizens to nominate or apply for candidacy. The top 20 will be sent forms to fill in.

2) Candidates who reply and pass vetting will be put on a form. Send this form with that list of candidates to EVERY address in Penang asking them to nominate or apply for candidacy.

3) Wait 3 months for the recipients to post back this form with the selectable candidates. This would cost 20 sen per letter to send making the cost 300K for Penang which has 1.5 million people. Or to absorb the cost, 50 sen in stamps must be sent in as well.

4) Counting begins. results posted in newspaper.

NOT get a bunch of cronies to effectively FIX the election by effectively making elections inaccessible to the public! Someone should sue DAP!

nkkhoo
15 Nov 2010 6.55pm

So good in empty talk, a typical loser.

Why not you volunteer yourself to assist Penang Forum instead of this empty talking after the fact.

AgreeToDisagree
16 Nov 2010 5.08am
Reply to  nkkhoo

You sure this talk is empty based on the posted facts? To say so, and this blatantly, makes you a liar or propagandist. I am not sure if Penang Forum is as open as it seems ‘after the fact’ and content to claim that ‘democratic elections were held’. Why should I volunteer at what has confirmed itself to be abn undemocratic and likely fixed election? I volunteer enough by my constructive critiques, let the readers judge and think it through. What do you do, but obfuscate and entrench bad practices like this? People like you harm the nation. But thanks for introducing your ‘kind’ to the Rakyat, an eye opener for sure. You can convince yourself, but lies are lies and you have abused your intelligence to obfuscate matters like these, and abuse the citizens trust in you to be a fair minded citizen in attacking people who address such undemocratic practices. If DAP is serious, they will redo this Local Council Election again in the manner I propose. If they are not, then the Rakyat had better know they LIE about democracy. This is neither… Read more »

admin
admin
16 Nov 2010 11.06am

This event was organised by the Penang Forum and not the DAP. Please see penangforum.net

AgreeToDisagree
16 Nov 2010 8.08pm

Don’t exhonerate DAP from this Aliran, because DAP needs to endorse and pay the salaries of these so-called councillors as well and it would be no-go unless DAP agreed to this farcial choice of candidates.

talkischeap
talkischeap
19 Nov 2010 1.58pm

agreetodisagree is indeed a loser. was there a claim that this is the ‘perfect democratic election’? what agreetodisagree fail to see is the honest initiative by civil society doing real work to engage people in learning about local council governance and processes; an important step in democracy. kudos to those who initiated this effort and please don’t listen to idiots like ‘agreetodisagree’. agreetodisagree is the epitome of hypocritical undemocratic behaviour – spouting superficial, cheap advice and attacking real efforts by civil society to engage the community with whatever means they have. people like you who undermine genuine civil society efforts while offering nothing but superficial talk behind an unaccountable pathethic pseudonym, is the hallmark of undemocratic behaviour; a hypocrite no less and a disease in our society. Don’t be like an irritating fly who just know how to criticize and insult based on your limited discourse and experience where anyone who don’t agree with you is a ‘propagandist’. how convenient and hypocritical for someone who calls himself ‘agreetodisagree’. if you can only offer egoistical superficial opinions, go play on your own anonymous facebook page and leave… Read more »

AgreeToDisagree
20 Nov 2010 1.42am

The Rakyat is the real loser if this simple suggested attempt to ‘restore’ council elections is not earnestly made, we all now know for certain that any democracy as offered by DAP in Penang is but a self serving farce to be done in the most expedient manner possible. You represent vested interests by speaking up for a 300 to 1.5 million ratio based election. Pakatan is not obligated to be democratic, as Fed Gov. has not removed already illegally continued Emergency era suspensions, but at least do this properly and not in this false method. If BN chooses to use to arrest any Councillors and even MP Chow Kon Yeow as overseeing and engaged in actions unconstitutional and illegal, they will see very little sympathy from rightminded citizens the instance the first cheque/meeeting allowance slip is issued to these so-called Councillors. Also the period for voting was too short and again illegal. These EXCO are not my choice and I dare say 3000 people could certainly come forward to demand that their vote AGAINST these cronies for any preferred candidate be counted as well. Don’t… Read more »

lembu susu
lembu susu
14 Nov 2010 7.55pm

May I know why are there no Malay candidates?

admin
admin
14 Nov 2010 8.13pm
Reply to  lembu susu

Check out the full list of candidates at the penangforum.net website.