Saturday 13 October 2012

Umno deputy minister hails Penang local elections

  • Susan Loone
  • 1:06PM Oct 13, 2012
Unlike his compatriots in the BN who are not keen, Deputy Higher Education Minister Saifuddin Abdullah views local government election positively, saying it is an important aspect of democracy.

At the Forum Anak Muda dan Demokrasi Tempatan in Penang, Saifuddin said since his student activist days, he had always called for the return of local polls banned in the 1960s.

NONE"I have said this many a' time, and I am going to repeat it today that I am for local elections," Saifuddin added, attracting laud applause from the packed hall in Komtar, where the event was held.

Saifuddin, (right) who is Temerloh MP, also ticked off the Election Commission for lack of proper response to state governments' questions on this issue.

"The EC should be more pro-active in answering questions or requests from state governments, especially Penang," he said at the event jointly organised by local NGOs and the Penang administration.

He was referring to the EC chief Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof's reluctance to hold the polls when he pointed out that the Local Government Elections Act 1960, which enables local polls, had been abolished.

Road map to local polls

Saifuddin, who is Temerloh MP, said although the local polls cannot be held yet, a road map to realise the matter must be in place.

He added that even though the state is unable to hold the election, it must utilise section 10 of the 1976 Local Government Act "in the spirit of that section".

"That is to ensure that local council appointees represent all interests and stakeholders and not just party interests," said Saifuddin.

"The section gives authority to the local council to appoint its members, not only to represent political parties, although they can do so, but also women, workers, traders and youths," he added.

"The arithmetic and method is another question and can be discussed, this to me is important and a basic right that is worth fighting for," he stressed.

Earlier, Saiffuddin had the crowd in stitches when he thanked the organisers for welcoming a representative from Umno and BN to talk at the Pakatan-led forum.

Other than Saifuddin, panel speakers included PKR Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar and Teo Lee Ken, youth activist and contributor to a discussion, Diskopi.

What is our Youth's age?

NONEModerated by Akademi Pak Sako director Dr Afif Bahardin, state executive councillor Chow Kon Yeow (left), state legislative assembly speaker Abdul Halim Hussein and Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng's political secretary Zairil Khir Johari also addressed the participants.

The event is part of this year's Local Democracy Festival, and its organising secretariat includes Sembang-Sembang Forum, Coalition of Good Governance, Penang, Jaringan Utara Migran and Perlarian, Penang Women's Development Corporation, People's Green Coalition and the Association of Chinese Journalists and Press Photographers, Penang.

Meanwhile, Saifuddin had the crowd breaking into laughter again when he used the official government yardstick to measure the age of Malaysian youths, which is for those between the ages of 15 to 40, saying it was a "daunting record" for others to beat.

Whatever the yardstick, Saiffudin said youths are "generally and universally cynical and sceptical" about politics but often had faith in democracy if it makes their lives better.

"I have to use words which are appropriate as a representative of Umno and BN (democracy) should be better or can bring about transformation, though it should be called reformasi," he joked, sparking laughter in the mostly young crowd.

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