Pilihanraya kerajaan tempatan: Pengumuman PM tidak wajar

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Voters casting their ballots enthusiastically at the Penang Forum 3 experimental local council poll in 2010

[ENGLISH VERSION BELOW] Gabungan Pilihan Raya Bersih dan Adil (Bersih 2.0) kecewa dengan pengumuman Perdana Menteri Dr Mahathir Mohamad bahawa tidak akan ada pilihan raya di peringkat kerajaan tempatan.

Pengumuman tersebut kelihatan tidak mendapat nasihat yang sewajarnya dan adalah satu langkah kebelakang untuk proses pendemokrasian yang lebih luas dalam negara.

Kerajaan Pakatan Harapan seharusnya menggalakkan perbincangan dan perbahasan tentang keperluan untuk mengembalikan pilihan raya kerajaan tempatan. Lebih penting lagi, mereka seharusnya membuat konsultasi dengan pelbagai pemegang taruh sebagai satu proses demokrasi sebelum membuat sebarang keputusan ataupun pengumuman rasmi.

Tanpa kajian yang menyeluruh kebimbangan perdana menteri berkenaan konflik perkauman dan melebarkan jurang bandar-luar bandar adalah satu spekulasi. Bahkan, kita tidak menyaksikan sebarang konflik perkauman dengan perubahan kerajaan negeri sejak 2008, kerajaan persekutuan pada tahun ini, bahkan semasa himpunan Bersih dan himpunan menentang International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination baru-baru ini. Kerajaan Pakatan Harapan harus mengiktiraf bahawa rakyat Malaysia adalah rasional dan tidak berorientasi keganasan.

Suatu perkara yang tidak benar sekiranya pilihan raya kerajaan tempatan diadakan, bahawa ianya akan didominasi oleh kaum bukan Melayu kerana demografi di kawasan bandar telah berubah dengan ketara semenjak tahun 1960an. Sebagai contoh, berdasarkan data 2010, populasi bangsa Melayu di Kuala Lumpur adalah 49.5% dan populasi bangsa Cina hanya 43.2%. Tidak timbul juga persoalan di atas untuk kerajaan tempatan di kawasan luar bandar di Semenanjung kerana Melayu adalah kaum yang majoriti.

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Tambahan pula, kebimbangan berlakunya perselisihan antara kaum, dapat ditangani secara berhemah dengan meneroka rekabentuk sistem pilihan raya yang berbeza seperti sistem perwakilan berkadaran berbanding sistem pemenang kerusi terbanyak (first past the post) yang sedia ada.

Pilihan raya kerajaan tempatan adalah hak setiap pembayar cukai untuk menentukan siapa akan mengurus dan bagaimana majlis tempatan mereka diuruskan. Amalan sekarang dimana ahli majlis dilantik oleh parti pemerintah adalah tidak dapat diterima kerana lantikan bukan berdasarkan merit dan keupayaan dan tidak semestinya dibertanggungjawabkan kepada masyarakat yang sepatutnya mereka memberi khidmat.

Tambahan lagi, lantikan politik akan mengukuhkan serta mengabadikan budaya politik naungan yang akan membiakkan rasuah dan salah guna kuasa di seluruh negara. Ini adalah legasi yang ditinggalkan oleh kerajaan terdahulu dan kerajaan Pakatan Harapan sewajarnya mengambil peluang ini untuk keluar dari budaya korup ini.

Walaupun kami maklum bahawa pengembalian pilihan raya kerajaan tempatan bukan sebahagian daripada manifesto Pakatan Harapan, ianya adalah sebahagian daripada manifesto Pakatan Rakyat pada pilihan raya umum 2008. Seharusnya ia diberikan satu pertimbangan semula dan bukannya terus dinafikan sewenang-wenangnya dalam satu ucapan.

Kami percaya bahawa pengembalian pilihan raya kerajaan tempatan akan mentransformasikan pengurusan majlis tempatan kita, menyatupadukan pelbagai etnik dengan isu setempat yang memberi kesan terhadap perjalanan hidup seharian, membuka peluang pemimpin baru untuk tampil dan menukar lanskap politik negara untuk masa depan yang lebih baik.

Maka, kami sekali lagi menggesa agar perdana menteri terus berfikiran terbuka untuk pilihan raya kerajaan tempatan dan membenarkan pelbagai pemegang taruh yang berbeza membincangan, membahaskan dan mencari penyelesaian yang terbaik. Ini akan memberi laluan kepada masyarakat dan pembayar cukai untuk terlibat dalam perlaksanaan majlis tempatan serta memastikan kebertanggungjawaban ahli majlis dan datuk bandar untuk perkhidmatan mereka.

Jawatankuasa Pemandu Bersih 2.0

English version

PM’s announcement ill-advised – Consult all stakeholders before making decision on local government elections

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Election (Bersih 2.0) is disappointed with Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s announcement that there will be no elections for local governments.

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The announcement is ill-advised, and it is a step back in the further democratisation of the country.

The Pakatan Harapan government should have encouraged discussion and debate on the merits of restoring local government elections. More importantly, it should consult various stakeholders as a democratic process before making any official decision or public announcement.

Without proper exploration, the concerns expressed by the prime minister about racial conflicts and the urban-rural divide is, at best, speculative. In fact, we have not experienced any racial conflict following changes of state governments since 2008, the change of federal government in 2018 and during the Bersih rally and rally to oppose the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The Pakatan Harapan government should give due recognition that the Malaysian public is rational and non-violent.

It is also untrue that if local government elections are held, they will be dominated by non-Malays as the demography in urban areas has changed significantly since the 1960s. For example, according to the 2010 census, the Malay population in Kuala Lumpur stood at 49.5%, which had outnumbered the population of Chinese, which was 43.2%. There is also no question as well that most of the local governments in the rural areas of the peninsula would be represented by Malays in the majority if elections are held.

Furthermore, such concern of communal strife, even if it is a real concern, can be adequately addressed by exploring different designs of electoral systems, (other than the existing first-past-the-post system, such “as proportional representation systems. This will accommodate the unique concerns of the various communities and ensure a fair representation of all communities in local governments.

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Voting in local government elections is the right of all ratepayers, who should have a say in who and how their local councils are managed. The current manner in which local councillors are appointed by ruling political parties is unacceptable as many are unqualified and are not accountable to the community they are supposed to serve.

Furthermore, such political appointments reinforce and perpetuate a culture of patronage that breeds corruption and abuse of power throughout the country. This is a legacy left behind by the previous government and the new Pakatan Harapan government should seize the opportunity to break free from such a corrupt culture.

While we noted that the restoration of local government elections is not part of the Pakatan Harapan manifesto, it was nonetheless part of the Pakatan Rakyat manifesto for the 2008 general election. As such, it should be given due consideration and not brushed aside in a speech.

It is our belief that the restoration of local government elections would transform the management of our councils, unite the various ethnic groups over common local concerns that affect their daily lives, open up opportunities for new leaders to emerge and transform the political landscape of our country for the better.

Therefore, we urge the prime minister to keep an open mind about local government elections and allow the various stakeholders to discuss, debate and find the best solutions. This would allow citizens and ratepayers to engage themselves in the running of local councils and to hold mayors and councillors accountable for their services.

Steering committee of Bersih 2.0

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