Malaysiakini Letter

Racial gap will close with local council elections

Chan Foong Hin  |  Published:  |  Modified:

It is ridiculous for Umno Minister Abdul Rahman Dahlan to claim that local council elections would be costly for taxpayers and create greater racial polarisation.

If what Abdul Rahman claims is right, then the same logic could be applied to parliamentary and state elections as well, but why do we hold elections then?

In contrast of what he alleges, local council elections would bring the racial polarisation gap closer.

Everyday I receive a lot of complaints pertaining mostly to local community livelihood issues such as unlit street lamps, clogged drainage, uncollected rubbish, etc.

I believes other elected representatives have faced a similar experience as well. In fact, this kind of issues are much more related to the jurisdiction of the local council, and are not in the least connected to state assembly legislature work.

If Malaysia has local council elections, then the councillors would be more willing to listen to the people as they are elected by the people.

The features of local community livelihood issues are not race-oriented.

Maybe Malaysians from different kinds of background would have different ideas on education - for instance, English used as the teaching language of Mathematics and Science would be preferred by a certain group, but not by another group.

However, I don't think there is any difference between a Malay hawker and a Chinese hawker when they have both made complaints against the inefficient market management by the local council.

The gap between different ethnic groups could be brought closer if Malaysians start to debate the local community issues more deliberately. The local community would be more empowered by being allowed to choose their own mayor, town port president, village head, etc.

Decentralisation and the devolution of power from the federal and state local government ministries would make the local council more efficient in responding to the people’s needs.

The local folk know better on where to build public toilets and how to plan for smoother traffic flow, not the bureaucrats from thousands of kilometres away in Putrajaya. It is ridiculous for Malaysians that the matter of public toilets would also require interference from the federal minister.

The end of racial polarisation started with local council elections. Local community members would have a better sense of belonging once they share the same values, same consensus and same destiny, as they decide on basic livelihood issues on their own.

CHAN FOONG HIN is Sri Tanjong assemblyperson-cum-Sabah DAP vice-chairperson.

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