READ also: Anil Netto on ‘Powerful Corporate Interest Penetrate Penang Local Council’ and Malaysiakini on ‘Penang groups unhappy with new Pakatan Councillors’.
Update: Today nine Penangites took time off to speak out about the controversial 1st Councilors’ list put out by the Pakatan Rakyat state government of Penang. All major media turned up-including Berita Harian and Utusan. Later they issued a press statement, as stated in my earlier post ‘Civil society not happy with councilors list by Penang Govt’.
Endorsers of the statement included: Penang Watch, SOS (Save Ourselves), Bus Users Group, MAFREL-Northern Region, SUARAM, JIM, Malaysian Voters Union，Pusat Khidmat Pekerja Tanjung, and Tanjung Bunga Residents Association.
Earlier, Ong Boon Keong @ Penang Watch said the councilors list for MPPP and MPSP (Penang and mainland) did not go down well with Civil Society members when it was released by Chow Kon Yeow, the Exco in charge of Local Government on Tuesday.
He added that the list did not live up to the high expectation of those who put their faith on the new government. Some of the complaints about the list include:
- The continuation of BN practice to apportion Councilors posts among the parties; Giving jobs to the `boys’ instead of giving the posts on merits, has been a tried and failed method under BN; Weak Councils had given rise to `Longkang Councilors’ problems;
- The lack of transparency in the selection process; Even when elections cannot be held straight away for the Councilors, the State Government can still adopt an open selections system (open invites, open criteria, open process, open lists of candidates etc) compared to the closed door selections used now; It is not known if the candidates are selected on political or merit/capacity considerations;
- The lack of balance among the candidates eg among the Councilors there is a lack of representations of women, non-Chinese, civil society members, working class etc;
- The appointment of 4 members of civil society members to MPPP and 3 to MPSP mean that the earlier promise of appointing 5 each to the 2 Penang’s Councils cannot be kept-a very bad start for the Councils!
- The appointment of an Assemblyperson to MPPP is a step backward when all states except Selangor under BN did not allow Assemblypersons to also serve in City Councils; There is already an Exco in charge of Councils -so the appointment of another Assemblyperson to Council is an unneccesory concentration of power in a single hand;
- The over-representation of Chambers of Commerce reps to the Councils (4 out of 7 civil society positions) present a very unbalanced Councils with potentials for conflict of interests since Chambers of Commerce members are often involved in applications of licenses to Councls; The lack of representations from working class, hawkers etc as promised highlight the imbalanced further.