Gabungan Demokrasi Tempatan (Dekat) refers to the Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin’s latest move to appoint penggerak komuniti tempatan (local community mobilisers) in 21 local authorities throughout the country.
Dekat questions the need for and the true motives for such an initiative when all local authorities in the country already have appointed local councillors to service the needs of the ratepayers.While Dekat still maintains that all councillors should be elected by ratepayers through local council elections, the fact remains there are already appointed councillors in all local authorities.
The Ministry of Housing and Local Government stated in a communique it is taking this initiative to introduce the dasar komuniti negara (national community policy) to facilitate the development of local communities to foster self-sufficiency and harmony. The ministry will work closely with the appointed community mobilisers to strategically to ensure that the objectives of policy are achieved.
Dekat is raising the following concerns:
1) Is the ministry overstepping its role and scope by taking over the function of state governments in the administration of local authorities?
This would be a gross violation of the agreed roles and functions between the federal government and state governments as stated in our Federal Constitution, with their responsibilities clearly listed in the Ninth Schedule and is therefore, unconstitutional.
The role of the ministry is only to formulate, execute and monitor all laws pertaining to local government and the implementation of town council functions like town and country planning, housing, landscaping, solid waste management and fire rescue services. The appointment of their own “councillors” in selected local authorities is not part of the ministry’s function.
(2) Is the ministry and specifically Zuraida abusing its/her position as a minister in the Perikatan Nasional government by creating these parallel “local authorities” for partisan political gain?
From the list of local authorities where nominees for appointment as local community mobilisers are named, all 21 local authorities are found in states controlled by Pakatan Harapan, namely Selangor, Negeri Sembilan and Penang.
Zuraida has to explain to the public her justification for such targeted appointments and the total budget that is allocated to dasar komuniti negara from the ministry.
Dekat calls for the following :
- All state governments to protest in the strongest terms, this encroachment of a federal ministry into a state’s function and possible undermining of the work of local authorities and councillors in their states. The terms of the Federal Constitution and spirit of federalism must be defended. The state governments of Selangor, Negeri Sembilan and Penang should take legal action against Zuraida and the ministry to stop such actions to undermine their authority
- For the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to launch an investigation into Zuraida under Section 23 of the MACC Act on possible abuse of position or power for gratification, in this case, for the benefit of her political party or coalition. No one is above the law and the MACC’s primary responsibility is to protect the public interest and uphold the law
Dekat steering committee
Dekat is a coalition of 10 NGOs that are advocating for the restoration of local council elections and was formed in August 2019. It shares the same secretariat as Bersih 2.0