Why promise something that cannot be delivered? Politicians and political parties are good at doing precisely that - making empty promises.
Before the last general election, both PKR and DAP had campaigned very enthusiastically for the return of a third vote or local council election to the people.
Why didn't the parties inform us that a third vote cannot be implemented unless there is a change of federal government and a constitutional amendment (which requires 2/3 support of lower house to amend the Local Government Act) must be done before a local council election can be reinstated?
The effect of making an empty promise is going to erode people's confidence of the newly minted coalition. A great number of people are already taking its recently announced Common Platform at a pinch of salt.
The Penang state government announced it will initiate efforts to set up the "Council of Elders" this year in line with its aim to fulfill its election manifesto of implementing local government elections.
The newly proposed council is be made up of five to nine citizens of good reputation, to be responsible for selecting councillors by holding informal elections to keep the flames of local democracy alive in Penang.
I have several issues with the recent announcement:
1) How can Pakatan claim to have fulfilled its election manifesto when what we got is not a local council election by a small committee made up of 5-9 privileged people to decide the entire line-up of the local councillors?
2) What yardstick will used to measure the reputation of these selected 5-9 council members? Who select these council members?
3) What is the definition of good reputation? Who decided what is good reputation?
4) Local council election is a good way to democratize the governance process at the local authority level. How can a Council of Elders fulfill this role? At least a councillor's performance can be monitored by the people through a local council election. Can the council of elders ensure that non-performing councillors will not be retained or be removed from their position?
The state government should just keep the current system of political appointment if it cannot fulfill its pledge to bring back a real local council election. At least it will be viewed as being more sincere rather than attempting something so archaic and hardly democratic.
It should not try to make a mockery of its own election manifesto by claiming that it has fulfilled its pledge through the council of elders.
Democracy should not be determined by a few selected people. Democracy is about the people.