not keen, Deputy Higher Education Minister Saifuddin Abdullah views local government election positively, saying it is an important aspect of democracy.Unlike his compatriots in the BN who are
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.
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.
who is Temerloh MP, also ticked off the Election Commission for lack of
proper response to state governments' questions on this issue.
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.
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
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
"That is to ensure that local council appointees
represent all interests and stakeholders and not just party interests,"
"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,"
"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.
Saifuddin, panel speakers included PKR Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah
Anwar and Teo Lee Ken, youth activist and contributor to a discussion,
What is our Youth's age?
Moderated 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
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.
have to use words which are appropriate as a representative of Umno and
BN ...it (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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