State govt urged to restore local council elections

Lina Soo

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KUCHING, July 2: State Reform Party (STAR) urges the Sarawak government to bring back local council elections.

Following the news that new city mayors and councillors would be announced on July 11, STAR president Lina Soo is urging the Sarawak government to reinstate free and fair local council elections to select mayors and councillors.

The first election for the Kuching Municipal Council was held in 1956 with 58 candidates vying for 27 council seats.

“Since November 4, 1956 until October 14,1981, the members of the Kuching Municipal Council were voted in through direct elections.

“On October 15, 1981, the Sarawak government abolished the electoral system and directly appointed the councillors who served at the pleasure of the government.

“This had the effect of changing the system from a democratic structure to a political system which rewards its members for their political support,” said Soo in a statement yesterday.

She said this patronage system is a flawed system because the people and grassroots organisations have no say at all and it does not result in the best man being elected to serve the community.

Soo also urges the Sarawak government to select community leaders, such as Kapitan who have the interests of the society at heart.

Instead what she observed as happening is Kapitan are selected based upon their connections and links with the leaders of political parties.

“Many such political appointees are absent leaders who fail to serve the community, yet are holding their positions for prestige.”

Soo proposed that community leaders be nominated by various associations who have gone through a vetting and elective process.

“Heads of associations are voted in by democratic process and this is one way of the filtering mechanism to get credible leaders who are willing to serve society.

“The present system of selecting community leaders by political patronage is undemocratic at best and, at worst it only creates leaders who only serve their own interests and egos, instead of serving the rakyat,” she said. — DayakDaily