The Housing and Local Government Ministry will continue studying ways to implement local council elections despite opposition from Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
In a statement, minister Zuraida Kamaruddin said her ministry had already been studying the matter and planned to present their findings in 2021.
“The ministry registers the prime minister’s concerns in his statement about local council elections should they be held at the current time.
“As a ministry tasked with local government issues, the ministry will continue studying the implementation of local government elections as an option to increase the democratisation of government administration,” she said.
Zuraida added local council election models from other countries would be studied while taking into account local contexts, sensitivities and sentiments.
“It is important to continue exploring new suitable methods while always being aware and considering the good and bad from all aspects in order to ensure the well-being of the rakyat,” she said.
Mahathir remarked earlier today that the revival of local government polls was no longer on the cards, citing concerns that it could result in differences among the races as well as between urban and rural dwellers.
Called the third vote, local council elections were last held in Malaysia in 1965.
Pakatan Harapan's 14th general election manifesto did not promise to restore local government elections but stated that it would “strengthen local democracy” and make local councils more accountable to the people they serve.
It also promised to amend the Local Government Act 1976 to reflect these aspirations.
DAP Kepong MP Lim Lip Eng previously said that Kuala Lumpur Harapan lawmakers would push to revive local council elections.
Civil society groups and residential associations have also been calling for local council elections to be reinstated to allow the rakyat better representation at the local government level.