Electoral Reform Committee studying proposals on caretaker government

Electoral Reform Committee chairman Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Electoral Reform Committee (ERC) is looking into proposals for a caretaker government before general elections.

Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman, who chairs ERL, said the caretaker government issue is interesting.

“We have never discussed this before on whether the existing government should continue to take charge after dissolution of Parliament or whether another group such as Election Commission or even the chief secretary should head the interim government,” he said after chairing a roundtable discussion with media on electoral reforms.

Rashid, who was formerly EC chairman from 2000 to 2008, said more discussions were needed on this and the situation in other countries needs to be studied.

He said ERC is in the midst of preparing its interim report by the end of this year on what they have done so far.

ERC was set up by the Pakatan Harapan government to review Malaysia’s election system and laws.

The committee has two years from August 2018 to complete their task and prepare the recommendations for the government.

Local council elections

Asked about proposals to reintroduce local council elections, Rashid said this matter did not come under the ERC.

Earlier this week, Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin promised to restore the third vote by 2021.

Rashid said he had gone to various places and the people wanted him to look into reintroducing local government elections.

“During the mid-1960s, I remember local council elections were called off because of political reasons.”

Rashid said that people nowadays are wiser because they want their voices to be heard by the authorities before they make decisions such as increasing taxes.

“They feel that there should be no taxation without representation,” he said, pointing out that a local authority such as City Hall (DBKL) could increase taxes without proper consultation with residents.

Rashid added that “even I suffered because I live in an area under DBKL’s jurisdiction”.

The last local council elections were held in 1963. Elections scheduled for the following year were suspended. The reason given by the federal government was Indon­esia’s confrontation with Malaysia.

The suspension, which was supposed to be temporary, became permanent in 1976 when Parliament passed the Local Government Act, which abolished the polls and provided for councillors to be appointed by political parties.

Local NGOs have been pushing Pakatan Harapan to restore local council elections to enable greater accountability.