Thursday, January 07, 2010

Council of Elders and a Broken Promise?

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.

4 comments:

cksf said...

dr kkp,
in the early days of tar merdeka, civil servants were servants of the public performing duties strictly in accordance to GO, FO, OSA and OI.
after may13 things changed. civil servants were servants of parliaments and local councils. political secretaries hounded cs with works which these political secs were to have done themselves. This misuses of power of the political secs had the supports of the dominant govt-- degenerating today whence civil servants got wiser to be members/supporters of the dominant govt, getting promotions and passing the bucks to the lower rungs so much so that it is impossible for civil servants to perform duties of yesteryears.

in the past treasury, judiciary, ptd, police et al controlled parliament. now it is the opposite.

btw, this corruption spans globally and we may as well not make too much waves, now up to our lower lips. or we may have to eat the shit.

herein lies the rub.

hasilox said...

Given the current environment, i doubt it's practical.

How difficult it's to buy into council through election? With some help from skewed govt agencies, much easier than the general election i suppose.

If the members commit crimes and being protected by their political party, what can the state govt do?

Without supportive environment, i doubt it'll work.

looes74 said...

Khoo,
First of all, you ask

"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?"

Khoo,
They did. Unfortunately some people presumbly the Public not satisfied with this explanation. Thus, this scheme (I am not so enthusiatic about the scheme. Not because of Pakatn though).
As for your pinch of salt on common platform policy......Yup, it's far complicated......It's still better than the catchy phrase of Najib. Perhaps, PCM should come up with far better proposal. Hehehe......Khoo, any consideration of joining Parti Cinta Malaysia.....Third voice mah.......

Khoo,
I fully agree with you on (2) & (3). Perhaps, Pakatan Rakyat spell out in a very clear term on (2) & (3). Oh if only they have a national paper just like The Straits Times across the causeway. Love it or not, they specify very clearly why the criteria of a Presidential candidate. Just to go the website & read
As for (1), it reminds me of Sun Yat Sen's ideal......You know in ROC (Taiwan), they have 5 branches. One of them is Examination Board. Start with councillors got to go through exams, interviews & psychological aptitude tests.

Khoo,
In fact, the council of Elder (Maybe you should apply for that) is a good idea. No more opportunists. No more people threatening anybody by resigning or doing some stupid (My apologies for such statement someone. I am making a general statement)

Khoo,
Local Council Election is a good way for democratisation of government process in local level. However, it's not perfect. The best way is to get people to be more actively involved in deciding government policies
Not just a 1 year, 2 year or 5 year affair......If in the private sector, we have appraisals every 6 months, isn't it time?

Anonymous said...

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