[Malaysian Insider] Penang Suaram to hold roundtable on local government elections

BY LOOI SUE-CHERN

Published: 14 August 2015 2:15 PM

Penang local government exco Chow Kon Yeow (left) and Suaram secretariat member Jeffrey Phang are hopeful the roundtable will present new ideas and workable strategies on how  to boost local democracy. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Looi Sue-Chern, August 14, 2015.

Penang local government exco Chow Kon Yeow (left) and Suaram secretariat member Jeffrey Phang are hopeful the roundtable will present new ideas and workable strategies on how to boost local democracy. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Looi Sue-Chern, August 14, 2015.

Penang Suaram, in collaboration with the state government, is holding a roundtable discussion on local government elections, to mark International Democracy Day, on September 14, in Komtar, George Town.

Among the prominent individuals to have confirmed participation in the discussion are lawyer and constitution expert Dr Abdul Aziz Bari, Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) chair Maria Chin Abdullah, Global Moderates Movement head Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism co-founder Cynthia Gabriel, Penang Institute fellow and political scientist Dr Wong Chin Huat and Aliran president Dr Francis Loh.

Others expected are lawyer Andrew Khoo, academician and former local councillor Datuk Dr Goh Ban Lee, Machang Bubuk assemblyman Lee Khai Loon and Suaram’s Jeffrey Phang and Sevan Doraisamy.

Phang, who is Suaram secretariat member, said the roundtable would discuss strategies to revive local government elections.
He said although the Penang government had exhausted the legal avenues to revive local government elections, the state should continue to encourage local democracy by appointing non-governmental organisation members into the local councils.

Phang said the state could still encourage the people to participate in the process of making decisions that affect their lives.

“We hope the discussion will present new ideas, possibilities and workable strategies to encourage the participation of the public.

“The people must be part of the process so that they can make the government and the councils improve performance and delivery. The people should not act as bystanders,” he said at a press conference in Komtar today.

The Penang government had previously tried to bring back local government elections. In 2012, the state legislative assembly passed the Local Government Elections (Penang Island and Seberang Prai) Bill and enforced the new legislation in January 2013.

It filed a petition at the Federal Court in March 2013, seeking a declaration that the passed local government election enactment was legal in Penang. The court last year ruled that the enactment was inconsistent with the Federal Constitution, however, and the petition was rejected.

State local government exco Chow Kon Yeow said despite reaching the end of the road in its attempt to revive local government elections, the state would continue to support and promote activities that encouraged the people to take part in the democratic process.

He said for five years now, the state has collaborated with Suaram on such activities.

“We hope that the roundtable will help us find ways to boost local democracy and people participation,” he said.

The roundtable is among Penang Suaram’s activities held under the Local Democracy Festival.

It will begin at 2.30pm at Komtar’s Bilik Mutiara on level 52. – August 14, 2015.

– See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/citynews/georgetown/article/penang-suaram-to-hold-roundtable-on-local-government-elections/penang-suaram-to-hold-roundtable-on-local-government-elections#sthash.w5joORGe.dpuf