Local government elections were abolished by the Malaysian federal government in 1976 despite suggestions to the contrary by the body set up to study them. Thirty four years later, the State governments of Penang and Selangor are asking for federal support to reintroduce them. If local councillors were elected instead of appointed, a mature electorate would be able to hold them accountable.
Both the state governments of Penang and Selangor announced in March this year that they had written separate letters to the Election Commission asking for local government elections to be conducted in their respective states. Their reasons for doing so were to strengthen democracy by having local representatives elected and not appointed, as they are now. This would enhance accountability in public administration.
In an immediate reaction, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak rejected this, stating that such a move would not necessarily improve services to the people. According to him, local council elections were bound to focus on campaigning and politicking instead.
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