Hornbill Unleashed

December 12, 2018

Local Government Elections; Sarawak can show the way

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 6:53 AM

Local council elections are called the 'third vote' after elections for federal and state governments.Bersih Sarawak views with great concern the hasty announcement by Tun Dr Mahathir yesterday stating that the Federal Government does not intend to implement local council elections despite earlier the Minister in Charge of Housing and Local Government YB Zuraida Kamarudin stating that her ministry is currently conducting a study on the proposal to bring back local council elections.

The move has been today described by GPS leaders as yet another U-turn or back-tracking by Tun M but as rightly pointed out by Sarawak’s Minister of Local Government and Housing Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hien, Sarawak have its own local government ordinances and was free to decide its own destiny.

Historically and through the pre formation of Malaysia documentation namely the Inter-Governmental Committee Report 1962* the autonomy to run its local government including that to conduct local government elections for its local authorities was amongst one of the powers retained by Sarawak upon its entry as part of the Federation of Malaysia. Local Government also appears as an item in the State List of the Federal Constitution to this day.

(*Paragraph 22 of the Report of the Inter-Governmental Committee )

Sarawak has the necessary experience in conducting elections to elect councillors to the Local Authorities going back to 1948 based on the Local Government Elections Ordinance, 1948 (Cap 118) and Local Authorities Ordinance, 1948 (Cap 117). We should have continued holding these elections as we have been holding the elections to the State Legislative Assembly and Parliament regularly. Our established system of electoral college was even lauded by the Cobbold Commision in its report. Lest we forget, the first Chief Minister of Sarawak, Stephen Kalong Ningkan, was elected a district councillor, then a divisional councillor, and finally a member of the State Legislature, and a member of the Supreme Council in 1963. These elections were abolished in the 1980s for reason(s) which were not widely known to the general public.

Bersih Sarawak is also of the view that having local government elections will strengthen grassroots democracy and participation in decision-making amongst communities that are often already bonded together by the local ties (ie.that of a particular district or even division). These kind of elections would provide a good start and a good training ground for young people who aspire to be future peoples representatives at a state or national levels. If they are elected councillors they would have already learnt about budgets, taxes and levies and other basics of good governance, accountability and integrity in the running of local government.

Needless to say also , it would be beneficial for the rate-payers and citizens as a whole because non-partisan local government elections would mean that councillors are accountable to the voters and rate-payers who voted them in. Issues and services close to the hearts of the residents and locals like low-cost housing , town/country planning including public libraries, recreation and other public amenities and public health ,sanitation and the environment can be better aired and heard by those elected councillors and hence decision-making more reflective of the wishes of the locals. In other words voters and rate-payers would overall be better served by bringing these elections back.

Having and effective and accountable local councillors and mayors would also free up the state assemblymen or members of Parliament to focus on policy-making and the business of law-making. As opposed to the current scenario where they will have to daily face complaints and handle issues that are within the purview of local councils and councillors.

We therefore call upon the State and the Minister in charge to show the right way and bring back local council elections in the state of Sarawak BUT of course not before having further consultations and debates with stakeholders and grassroots civil society and the merits of restoring these elections.

Issued by Bersih Sarawak.

Endorsing NGOs:

Source : Ann Teo; Chairperson of Bersih Sarawak


  1. The education curriculum has been increasingly narrowed to focus on Ketuanan Melayu and narrow Islam teachings. There is little hope for change when leaders of our new government advocate for power ‘by hook or crook’. They are mostly half-baked in thoughts and poorly educated. How can the nation progress when Muslims are hindered from reading the teachings and philosophies of other great religions? That they had been suppressed in the past by colonialists and threatened by other races, so their fellow non-Muslims must be contained while generously feeding the ‘lazy’ Malays from birth to grave. Unless our hopeless politicians controlled by the ruling Malay class can provide a vision without prejudice, the nation will continue on this slippery path for a long long time, and retard it’s progress. Alas, we are being governed by a ‘retarded’ lot who can’t see beyond religion and race.

    Comment by Hattan — January 6, 2019 @ 11:38 AM | Reply

  2. The Malays rob Tabung Haji, FELDA, FELCRA and many Malay dominated organisations, yet not a single Malay has come out to condemn them for cheating the Malays. Yet they keep condemning the Chinese for small things and even distort facts.

    Comment by limpehkong — December 14, 2018 @ 11:32 AM | Reply

  3. The recent UMNO stories are Pathetic. A sad ending to a once glorious Party. The scenes enacted are much like a Tamil/Hindustan movie a less than beautiful girl was presented to numerous would be suitors by the father promising a wealthy dowry. But no takers !! SAD

    Comment by Midas — December 13, 2018 @ 8:24 PM | Reply

    • Harapan must not underestimate those that made New Malaysia a reality. We have been at it since 2008 and what is happening in Peribumi is disheartening. Ponder for a moment why the Umno discards are all headed in the same direction and why Peribumi is being singled out for the accusations of betrayal. We in Pakatan did not struggle all these years for newbie Peribumi to bring in those that connived and clouded racism and corruption into Harapan through the backdoor. Why must the fate of Umno frogs become Harapan’s problem? Why worry whether they join PAS or become independent? Why is Peribumi preoccupied with solving Umno’s problems? It seems that the reform agenda that took a snail’s pace has been consigned to the back burner in favour of expending the power base of Peribumi ostensibly to compete with Harapan parties. Tun has backtracked from Harapan’s main agenda of dismantling Umno’s draconian laws giving lame excuses even to the extend of going back on his own UN rhetoric that Malaysia will sign Icerd. A moderate on the world stage like Najib? It is high time Tun stopped entertaining Umno delegations and playing godfather to their problems and let Zahid and his cohorts play an effective opposition role as defined in GE14. Harapan parties must rein in Tun’s trade mark distractions and autocratic trends and make a clear stand on the issue of polluting Harapan with those jumping ship and get on track with its reform agenda.

      Comment by Nina — December 16, 2018 @ 12:15 PM | Reply

  4. The recent UMNO stories are Pathetic. A sad ending to a once glorious Party. The scenes enacted are much like a Tamil/Hindustan movie a less than beautiful girl was presented to numerous would be suitors by the father promising a wealthy dowry. But no takers !! SAD

    Comment by Midas — December 13, 2018 @ 8:24 PM | Reply

  5. If either Salleh Keruak or Pandikar Amin, possibly the worst of the Barisan vermin, are accepted into any Pakatan party however fervently they may be supportive of Mahathir, it would be the greatest betrayal of all those who voted Pakatan.

    Salleh Keruak for all his loud bleating was only a robotic creature responding in a predictable manner, he was just a court jester. But Pandikar Amin was the personification of evil when he ruled over Parliament, both should never stain Pakatan.

    Comment by Saiful RD — December 12, 2018 @ 6:30 PM | Reply

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