Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) president Mohamad Sabu has assured his “buddy” Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) central committee member S Arutchelvan that his views on local government elections remain unchanged.
“I too believe the old race-based arguments can no longer be used to prevent local polls from being implemented in Malaysia,” he said in a WhatsApp call with Malaysiakini from Lahore, Pakistan.
“However, Pakatan Harapan is not Mat Sabu or Amanah alone.
“Any decision needs the consensus of the parties involved in Harapan, namely DAP, PKR and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu),” he added.
In a Facebook posting yesterday, Arutchelvan had expressed hope that Mohamad would defend his earlier stand of supporting local government elections, amid Bersatu chairperson Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s objection to local government elections.
The former prime minister, in opposing the idea, had argued that local government elections could create Chinese-ruled urban and Malay-ruled rural areas.
Arutchelvan reminded Mohamad that he had on Jan 9, 2016, said in Shah Alam, “We hope Pakatan Harapan can bring back local government elections, so that things like nepotism, waste and corruption can be lessened”.
He also recalled that at a reformasi gathering on Feb 25 this year, Mohamad had maintained that this was a promise.
Restoring local government elections, according to Arutchelvan, was also a promise included in the 2008 election manifesto of Harapan’s predecessor, Pakatan Rakyat.
No official stand on local polls in Amanah yet
Mohamad also vowed that he would do his best to convince Harapan parties on restoring local elections.
“I will forward my personal views to them at the coming meeting,” he said, adding that although there is yet to be a stand in Amanah on the issue, he believes most of his fellow leaders shared his views.
“I hope Arul (Arutchelvan) understands,” he added.
Penang, led by DAP since 2008, has continued to push for local elections by challenging the federal government’s view on it.
Before Independence, Malaya had a total of 289 units of local councils.
After Merdeka, state governments were given the power to control local governments.
Local elections were suspended in 1965, as Malaysia faced the Indonesian confrontation and racial riots in 1969.