KUALA LUMPUR: The Housing and Local Government Ministry is preparing a working paper on the proposal to restore local government elections to be presented to the Cabinet by the end of 2019.
Deputy Minister, Senator Datuk Raja Kamarul Bahrin Shah (pix), told the Dewan Rakyat that his ministry had conducted three workshops on the feasibility of the election.
“The ministry is in the midst of preparing the working paper to be presented to the Cabinet. The government needs to amend a few laws before it implements local government elections. Among them is the Local Government Election Act 1960, amended in 1991, which must be reactivated and amended.
“We have to make changes to Section 10 and 15 of the Local Government Act 1976 as well. Section 10 provides for the appointment of local councillors by the state government while Section 15 relates to provisions related to local government elections ceasing to have effect.
“So local government elections cannot be implemented any time soon until it gets Cabinet approval,” Raja Kamarul said in his reply to Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said (BN-Pengerang) during Question Time today.
In her supplementary question, Azalina pointed out that Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad already said last December that the government will not reintroduce local government elections as it may cause race-related conflicts.
Raja Kamarul said all possible challenges were being studied and reviewed in the workshops and the outcome of the studies will be presented in the working paper.
“We are also engaging all the stakeholders including the state government, the Election Commission, the Attorney General’s Chambers and others,” he said.
Local council elections existed here between 1951 and 1965 but were suspended in 1965 because of the Indonesian Confrontation.
On March 1, 1965, the then prime minister - Tunku Abdul Rahman - suspended local council elections, giving as justification the threat of the Indonesian Confrontation. However, he gave the solemn undertaking that “the very moment peace is declared, I can assure this House that the elections will be held”.