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Revive local elections with 'test runs' in KL, Penang, says analyst – Free Malaysia Today

PETALING JAYA: A political analyst has suggested holding local council elections in a few cities as a test run of sorts to give the public a better understanding of local elections.
Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid of Universiti Sains Malaysia said Penang, Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur were ideal for such “test run” elections, before involving other cities.
He urged the prime minister to champion local government elections as a good way of nurturing future political leaders.
“Local elections are a good stepping stone into politics as you get to understand the grassroots better, and it’s also an ideal place for young people to learn the ropes before becoming assemblymen or MPs,” he told FMT.
Fauzi said the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and former British prime minister Boris Johnson had arisen as national leaders after going through local elections and being elected as mayors.
Local elections in Malaysia were suspended in the 1960s and were later replaced by a system of appointed heads, where state mayors of city councils and presidents of municipal and district councils are appointed by the state governments.
Fauzi dismissed fears which were previously held that local elections would be subject to racial politics. He said there were now a lot more Malay people living in urban areas compared to the 1960s and 1970s.
“The rules of the local election can be adjusted to suit the country’s norms. That way we would encourage a healthy democracy and get the people to warm up to the idea,” he said.
He said local government minister Nga Kor Ming should start educating people instead of keeping the matter on the back burner.
Nga has said that he has other priorities to deal with, beyond the matter of reviving local elections.
Thomas Fann, head of the electoral reform group Bersih, said Kuala Lumpur should be the first to have elections to City Hall, as the capital city needed representative democracy.
Local government elections were important to ensure better delivery of services at the street level, he said.
“Most of the problems we face on a daily basis are due to decisions made by local councils. If people realise they can improve their living conditions at this level they will take an active part in local council elections.
He urged Pakatan Harapan leaders to persuade its coalition partners to support the revival of local elections.
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