Malaysiakini News

Restore local elections in KL, Putrajaya and Labuan

Steven Sim Chee Keong  |  Published:  |  Modified:

MP SPEAKS I refer to Federal Territories Minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor’s statement “to take Langkawi, Penang and certain parts of Malacca” to be Federal Territories.

Tengku Adnan’s latest remark is not only highly irresponsible and unlawful but undermines the spirit of democracy in this country. The minister is clearly trying to rob power away from the people.

Kuala Lumpur’s budget is 13 times larger than that of a state government, and yet KL residents have no vote on its governance.

The Federal Territories are currently administered by unelected governments headed by a mayor, president and chairperson respectively for KL, Putrajaya and Labuan.

There are no state constituencies, and the local governments in these areas are appointed directly by the federal government.

These ‘federal agents’ however collect tax and spend taxpayers’ money. For example, Kuala Lumpur City Hall is expected to collect over RM1 billion in assessment from taxpayers this year, making up 42 percent of its total revenue in 2017.

Kuala Lumpur City Hall’s projected spending for 2017 at RM2.87 billion is more than 13 times the budget of the Perlis state government, and almost twice the budgets of the state governments of Kedah, Penang, Perak, Johor, and Terengganu.

Other than Selangor, Sabah and Sarawak, KL’s budget is larger than the budget of the 10 other state governments in Malaysia.

However, unlike Kuala Lumpur and other FTs which are only represented in the federal Parliament by Members of Parliament (MPs), these states have properly elected state government with residents and taxpayers represented by not only MPs but also state assemblypersons.

The Penang state government had also passed the Local Government Elections (Penang Island and Province Wellesley) Enactment 2012 in order to restore local election at the municipal level.

Thus, instead of further destroying democracy in this country, I urge the minister to turn the existing Federal Territories into proper democracies by restoring local elections to Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan.

This month marks the 65th anniversary of the Kuala Lumpur municipal election which was held on Feb 16, 1952.

Next month in March marks the 52nd year after local elections were suspended in this country.

After more than half a century of ‘taxation without representation’, it is high time the federal government returns power to residents and taxpayers in Kuala Lumpur and the FTs.

STEVEN SIM CHEE KEONG is MP for Bukit Mertajam and director, Penang Institute.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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