Local council polls: AG opposes Penang government’s court application

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The Attorney General’s opposition to the Penang state government’s application for leave to allow 1.6m Penangites to choose their own councillors proves again that the BN opposes local government elections and democracy, says Lim Guang Eng.

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Former Aliran president P Ramakrishnan (right) is the second petitioner in the legal action

The Attorney General’s Chambers, representing Najib’s government, turned up at the Federal Court to object to the leave application of the state government of Penang and former Aliran president Mr P Ramakrishnan. Both of us are petitioning the Federal Court to declare that Penang State Legislature has the right to allow the voters of Penang to elect their local councillors, in accordance with the Local Government Elections (Penang Island and Province Wellesley) Enactment 2012, which was passed by the State Assembly in May 2012.

Malaysians had the right to elect their local councillors for over a decade between 1951 and 1965, when elections were suspended because of the Indonesian Confrontation. The then-Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, promised the Dewan Rakyat that local government elections would be restored once the Confrontation was over. He said: “As soon as this peace and quietness has returned we would make haste with all proper preparations for the local council elections … The very moment peace is declared I can assure this House that the elections will be held. “

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The Indonesian Confrontation ended in 1966. For 47 years, we have been waiting for this promise to be fulfilled and for the Federal Government to allow local elections to be held.

On 29 May 2013, a single judge of the Federal Court will hear the State Government and Ramakrishnan’s application for leave under Article 4(4) of the Federal Constitution to file a petition challenging sections 10 and 15 of the Local Government Act 1976, which prevent the holding of local government elections. If successful, the petition will be heard before a bench of the Federal Court, exercising its original jurisdiction under Article 128(1), on a later date.

Because of the Attorney General’s objection, the Federal Court has fixed 29 May 2013, after the 13th General Election, for the hearing of the leave application. If Pakatan Rakyat wins a majority in the federal Parliament in the General Election, we will immediately withdraw the Federal Government’s opposition to this case and take steps to reintroduce local democracy in Malaysia by repealing the federal prohibition on local government elections.

The Penang PR state government’s desire to restore local government elections is based on our belief in democracy, in a system of government of the people, by the people, for the people. We believe in particular that the past 18 years of neglect suffered by Penang can be blamed in part on the system of political appointment of councillors by the BN state government, which saw the MPSP become practically bankrupt after losing RM230m before 2008.

Lim Guan Eng is the chief minister of Penang

(Translation)

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Bantahan Jabatan Peguam Negara terhadap permohonan Kerajaan Negeri Pulau Pinang untuk membenarkan 1.6 juta rakyat Pulau Pinang memilih Ahli Majlis sendiri membuktikan Barisan Nasional (BN) menentang pilihan raya kerajaan tempatan dan demokrasi.

Jabatan Peguam Negara yang mewakili Kerajaan Najib telah merujuk kepada Mahkamah Persekutuan untuk membantah permohonan Kerajaan Negeri Pulau Pinang dan bekas Presiden Aliran Mr P Ramakrishan. Kedua-dua kami telah mengemukakan rayuan kepada Mahkamah Persekutuan untuk mengisytiharkan bahawa Pelembagaan Negeri Pulau Pinang diberi hak untuk membenarkan pengundi Pulau Pinang untuk memilih Ahli Majlis Tempatan sendiri, selaras dengan Enakmen Pilihan Raya Kerajaan Tempatan 2012 (Pulau Pinang dan Seberang Perai) sepertimana yang telah diluluskan oleh Dewan Undangan Negeri (DUN) pada Mei 2012.
Rakyat Malaysia mempunyai hak untuk memilih Ahli Majlis Tempatan selama lebih satu dekad antara tahun 1951 dan 1965, apabila pilihan raya kerajaan tempatan terpaksa digantung atas sebab Konfrontasi Indonesia. Perdana Menteri ketika itu, Tunku Abdul Rahman telah berjanji kepada Dewan Rakyat bahawa Pilihan Raya Kerajaan Tempatan akan dipulihkan apabila Konfrontasi berakhir. Beliau berkata:

“Sebaik sahaja keamanan dan ketenangan pulih kembali kita akan segera membuat persiapan untuk pilihan raya kerajaan tempatan… Sebaik sahaja keamanan diisytiharkan saya memberi jaminan kepada Dewan bahawa pilihan raya akan diadakan.”

Konfrontasi dengan Indonesia telah berakhir pada tahun 1966. Selama 47 tahun kita telah menunggu janji ini dilaksanakan oleh Kerajaan Persekutuan bagi membenarkan Pilihan Raya Kerajaan Tempatan.

Pada 29 Mei 2013, seorang hakim Mahkamah Persekutuan akan mendengar permohonan Kerajaan Negeri dan Ramakrishnan di bawah Perkara 4(4) Perlembagaan Persekutuan untuk memfailkan petisyen bagi mencabar Seksyen 10 dan 15 Akta Kerajaan Tempatan 1976, yang menghalang dari mengadakan Pilihan Raya Kerajaan Tempatan. Sekiranya berjaya, petisyen itu akan didengar di hadapan barisan hakim Mahkamah Persekutuan bagi menjalankan bidang kuasa asalnya di bawah Perkara 128(1), pada satu tarikh yang akan ditetapkan kemudian.

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Disebabkan bantahan daripada Jabatan Peguam Negara, Mahkamah Persekutuan telah menetapkan 29 Mei 2013, selepas Pilihan Raya Umum ke-13 untuk mendengar permohonan kebenaran itu. Sekiranya Pakatan Rakyat menang majoriti di Parlimen Persekutuan pada Pilihanraya Umum kali ini, kita akan segera menarik balik bantahan daripada Kerajaan Persekutuan terhadap kes ini dan mengambil langkah-langkah untuk memperkenalkan semula demokrasi tempatan di Malaysia dengan memansuhkan larangan Persekutuan terhadap Pilihan Raya Kerajaan Tempatan.

Hasrat Kerajaan Negeri PR Pulau Pinang untuk memulihkan Pilihan Raya Kerajaan Tempatan adalah berdasarkan kepercayaan kita terhadap demokrasi, dalam sistem kerajaan rakyat, oleh rakyat dan untuk rakyat. Kerajaan Negeri percaya pengabaian selama 18 tahun yang ditanggung oleh Pulau Pinang boleh dipersalahkan di atas sistem lantikan politik Ahli Majlis oleh Kerajaan Negeri BN, di mana MPSP hampir menjadi bankrap setelah ketirisan sebanyak RM230 juta sebelum tahun 2008.

Lim Guan Eng ialah ketua menteri Pulau Pinang

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