Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Courts, not minister, should decide Penang local government elections, says MP

Courts, not minister, should decide Penang local government elections, says MP

June 13, 2012
Malaysian Insider
 
KUALA LUMPUR, June 13 — Penang today disagreed with Putrajaya’s claim that a recent state-passed enactment to restore local government elections was invalid, saying that only the courts could decide such a matter.

State executive councillor Chow Kon Yeow told the housing and local government minister to respect Penang’s jurisdiction in the matter, adding that the latter should be helping the state restore local elections instead of the contrary.

“I wish to remind the minister that, it is for the court — and not for him — to decide whether the Penang Local Government Elections Enactment is constitutional and valid.
“He has acted wildly beyond his jurisdiction and once again shows just how little respect the Barisan Nasional (BN) federal government has for the wishes of the people,” Chow said in a statement here.

Chor had told the Dewan Rakyat yesterday that the enactment, passed by the Penang legislative assembly last month, contravenes Section 15 of the Local Government Act 1976 (Act 171), which states that local government elections “shall cease to have force or effect”.

But Chow refuted this, insisting that in the first place, Section 15 of the Act was ultra vires the Federal Constitution.

Articles 113 and 114 of the Federal Constitution states that the Election Commission (EC) is responsible for conducting elections.

As such, said Chow, the Constitutional provisions should still apply.

“Further to that, the Penang government, through a Gazette notification, had 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 EC to conduct local government elections,” he said.

But Chow also noted that in a letter to the Penang government dated March 23, 2010, the EC had rejected the state’s request to restore local government elections.

“The Pakatan Rakyat (PR) Penang government through various attempts had written to the ministry as well as the EC to restore and conduct local elections; however, both the ministry and EC ignored Penang’s request,” he complained.

Chow added that the state had even written to the National Council for Local Government (NCLG) in July 2009, requesting that the topic of local government elections be brought up but this was rejected.

Faced with these hindrances, the Tanjong MP said the state assembly went ahead to pass the Local Government Elections Enactment (Penang Island and Province Wellesley) 2012 on May 9 this year.

He insisted that Chor, as minister, and the Attorney-General could not arbitrarily decide that the enactment was invalid.

“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.

“If Penang’s citizens want free and fair elections to decide who represents their interest in local government, the federal government, much less Chor, have no business in forcing upon us an unreasonable decision that cannot be justified any longer,” he said.

No comments:

Post a Comment