Umno and PAS are up in arms against fellow Perikatan Nasional minister Zuraida Kamaruddin’s push for local government elections.
Umno lawmaker Noh Omar said this wasn’t part of PN’s agenda, while PAS Youth said local government elections could heighten racial disparity in the country.
“The minister (Zuraida) had also said the Langkawi MP did not agree. If Langkawi (Dr Mahathir Mohamad) does not agree, then the minister should just cancel it,” he said.
Speaking in the Dewan Rakyat, Noh (BN-Tanjung Karang) said he was especially opposed to a test poll being done in Selangor.
“I want to stress in this House, Selangor PAS and Umno reject local government elections.
“Whose manifesto is this? This is Harapan’s manifesto… Please minister, announce that the PN government plans to cancel local government elections, please, so those of us down here are calm,” he said.
Noh, who was housing and local government minister in the Barisan Nasional government, said ministers should take into account Umno and PAS’ opinions when making decisions.
“I was very upset and surprised yesterday, when Zuraida said the government is studying local council elections and that her ministry has formed two committees to look into the matter.
“Worse was when she said Selangor and Penang will be the first states to test local council elections.
“I urge our ministers to forget previous manifestos, whether from BN or PH.”
Nik Muhammad Zawawi Salleh (PAS-Pasir Puteh) then said his party would also reject local government elections.
Kapit MP Alexander Nanta Linggi (GPS-Kapit) and Willie Mongin (PPBM-Puncak Borneo) said they too did not want local government elections.
Noh then asked Zuraida not to submit the working paper to the Cabinet for consideration.
Yesterday, Zuraida, who helms the Housing and Local Government Ministry, said she is pushing ahead with plans to initiate local government polls to empower local governments, which she began when serving in the Pakatan Harapan administration.
She said a paper on the matter will be tabled in the Cabinet by mid-2021 before further work is done.
Fahmi Fadzil (Harapan-Lembah Pantai) asked if Noh’s objection meant that the latter and Umno was willing to pull out of the PN government if Zuraida doesn’t abandon her plans.
Noh replied: “This isn’t about pulling out.”
“(Not holding local government elections) is our desire. I hope the minister can understand that this is a suggestion from Harapan. The PN government doesn’t have a manifesto,” he added.
Meanwhile, in a separate statement, PAS Youth chief Khairil Nizam Khirudin said the PN government should prioritise ensuring financial and harmonious certainty for the rakyat.
“Local government elections are seen as the starting point to racial division as the composition of Chinese are greater in the urban areas compared to the composition of other races such as the Malays and Indians…leading to a gap which will divide the standards of living for the various races in Malaysia.
“We will not hesitate to oppose it (local government elections) and thereby ensuring the effort is not implemented, even if PAS is a part of the government today,” he said.
Khairil added this was in line with the stand taken by the Islamic party’s central leadership that local government elections are not to be considered until certain racial, economic, lifestyle and social divides are addressed.
“…and efforts to inculcate a more cohesive unity in Malaysia,” he said, adding the government would be sure to come up with a different way to better local administrations.
Yesterday, Zuraida said local government elections were important to show Malaysia was a progressive and democratic country.
However, she alleged none of her former Harapan colleagues had supported her when the plan was shot down by then-prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
DAP deputy secretary-general Teresa Kok denied any cabinet paper has ever been presented by Zuraida when in Harapan. Nonetheless, Kok assured that DAP would support plans for local government elections.