Wednesday 17 Apr 2024
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KUALA LUMPUR: The Local Government Elections Enactment 2102 passed by the Penang Legislative Assembly last month to allow the people to elect their municipal councillors is not valid, the Dewan Rakyat was told yesterday. However, this was disputed by a Penang government leader, who said in a statement that the matter should be decided by the court.

Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Chor Chee Heung said the enactment contravened Section 15 of the Local Government Act 1076 (Act 171) which states that local government elections “shall cease to have force or effect”.

“After referring the issue to the Attorney-General’s Chambers, it has been found that the enactment is not valid because Section 15 Act 171 overlaps the Local Government Elections Act 1960 (Act 473),” he said, according to Bernama.

He was replying to Loh Gwo-Burne (PKR-Kelana Jaya) who had proposed that a local government re-election be held to let the locals choose their councillors.

Chor said the Penang government’s action in approving the enactment without consulting the National Council for Local Government (NCLG) was clearly against Article 95A(6) of the Federal Constitution.

Article 95A(6) states that local governments must consult the NCLG on any proposed legislation for consideration and approval before it can be implemented, to maintain uniformity.

The amended Section 15 Act 171 to cease local government elections was aimed at allowing local authorities (LA) to focus on quality delivery services to the community and areas under their jurisdiction, he said.  

Chor also said a local government election is not the yardstick for efficiency and effectiveness of the LA’s delivery system.  

“Even though local government elections are no longer held, Section 10 Act 171 provides for the appointment of councillors as a legislative body, planners and LA policy implementers,” he said.

He stressed that the main criteria in the appointment of a councillor is extensive knowledge in local government affairs, professionally successful, and competent to represent the interest of a LA cluster.    

In a statement, Penang exco member for local government Chow Kon Yeow said it is for the court to decide whether the Enactment is constitutional and valid.

“The Local Government Elections Enactment Penang Island and Province Wellesley was passed on May 9, 2012 at Penang Legislative State Assembly, hence the Enactment cannot be declared null and void by the ministry just based on an the opinion of one Minister and the Attorney-General.

“They have no jurisdiction over the matter. It is up to the court to decide whether the Enactment is constitutional, and Penang is ready to defend the right of her citizens in an independent court of law,” said Chow.

“We believe that the Local Government Act 171 1976 is ultra vires and Federal Constitution 113 (4) still applies. Further to that, the Penang government, through a Gazette notification exempted all the local authorities within Penang from applying Section 15 of the Local Government Act. This would result in Section 15 not being applicable in Penang and is the first step towards seeking a court declaration to compel the Election Commission to conduct local government elections,” he said.

This article appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, June 13, 2012.

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