Minister Nga Kor Ming stressed today that restoring local government elections is not his immediate priority after taking the office.
Amid claims that Nga’s appointment will lead to the third vote and domination of the Chinese community, the local government development minister said he will instead focus on seven main areas to prioritise the wellbeing of the public.
“[The local government election] is not an immediate focus, what is important at this stage, I have listed seven main focuses, let us implement that first, to ensure that the welfare of the people is our priority,” he reportedly said at a press conference at his office in Putrajaya after clocking in for his first day of duty.
Local elections were suspended by the Proclamation of Emergency during the Indonesia-Malaysia Confrontation in 1964 and remain in force.
The Local Government Act was then passed in 1976 abolishing local government elections, and councillors appointed by the state governments.
Last year, former housing and local government minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican said that Malaysia will not revive local government elections, as it would cost at least RM302 million nationwide.
The Perak chapter of PAS recently claimed in its outlet HarakahDaily alleged that local elections will lead to local councils and mayorships being dominated by DAP and the Chinese community and pose a restriction to its Islamist aims.
The local election was left out of Pakatan Rakyat’s election manifesto in 2014 after PAS president Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang claimed it could lead to another May 13 racial riots.
Pakatan Harapan’s plan for Shah Alam to reintroduce the local election in 2018 faced opposition from the Selangor state government.
Then housing and local government minister Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin also pledged to conduct a study on the reimplementation of local elections within three years, but this was abandoned following the change in government.
Meanwhile, Nga is doing away with the gift-giving culture during official events for the ministry.
He also aims to inculcate traditional Malay values, such as being courteous and spendthrift; and uphold the Rukun Negara principles during his stint.
“It will be meaningful to save the money from buying gifts and donate to those in need instead.
“My focus now will be to improve our fundamental services, such as waste management, cleaning up the drains, because these issues are close to the people’s hearts.
“With the northeast monsoon coming, we will also boost the readiness of our firemen and rescue services to provide timely assistance to flood victims,” he told reporters.