In 1964, when local government elections were suspended, the Indonesian Confrontation was used as an excuse. But when Indonesian Confrontation ended, local government elections were also abolished and for the next 36 years, Malaysians had been denied the fundamental right to elect the local government of their choice and to hold local government directly responsible and accountable to the ratepayers.
The right to development and the right to participatory democracy, as in elected local government, must be regarded as fundamental human rights which should be recognised not only by the newly-formed Human Rights Commission but also by the Barisan Nasional Government.
Local government elections have been abolished not for the interests of the people but the ruling parties, for Barisan Nasional component parties have no confidence in securing public support in local government elections.
The history of the nominated local government system in the past 36 years have shown that it is productive of wide-scale abuses and even corrupt practices, apart from breeding a culture of lack of accountability and transparency.
If there are local government elections, such abuses and malpractices could be checked periodically for the ratepayers would have the opportunity to vote them out of office, which is now denied them.
I hope the establishment of the Shadow MPPJ would lead to a heightening of public awareness of their fundamental right to participatory democracy and elected local government, leading to the restoration of local government elections within this decade.