The Election Commission (EC) should recognise that the Local Government Elections Act 1960 (Act 473) has been revised in 1991 and constitutes the sole and only proper law relating to the election of local councillors. For this reason, the Penang state government is taking a progressive step-by-step approach towards removing all legal impediments preventing the conduct of local government elections by the EC.
One of the steps that is being taken is the instruction by the Penang State Government to the Penang State Legal Adviser to issue a gazette notification exempting local authorities in Penang from section 15 of the Local Government Act 1976 as a precursor to seeking a court declaration to compel the Election Commission to conduct local government elections.
The EC Chairman, Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof, has said that he is confused by the Penang State Government’s intention to bring to the Courts the issue of the State’s right to ask the Election Commission to conduct local government elections to the local authorities in Penang. On 4 March 2010, I wrote to the Election Commission asking it to conduct local government elections to the MPPP and MPSP exercising the state powers under Article 113(4) of the Federal Constitution, but the Election Commission also refused. Article 113(4) states,
“Federal or State law may authorise the Election Commission to conduct election other than those referred to in Clause (1).”
On 12 March 2010, I also wrote to the Prime Minister offering to meet with him to discuss the State Government’s position but again received no response.
I can confirm that the EC Chairman wrote a long letter to me on 23 March 2010 setting out the Federal Government’s claim that local government elections are not possible because section 15 of the Local Government Act 1976 (Act 171) had caused the Local Government Elections Act to be of no force and effect. This is the very reason why the state government is gazetting notification exempting local authorities in Penang from section 15 of the Local Government Act 1976
The EC Chairman and the Federal Government have also sidestepped the crux of this issue, namely that the Local Government Elections Act was never repealed and was in fact revised in 1991. According to section 10(2) of the Revision of Laws Act 1968 (Act 1), a revised law “shall be deemed to be and shall be without any question whatsoever in all courts and for all purposes whatsoever the sole and only proper law in respect of matters included in it and in force on that date”.
Clearly the Local Government Elections Act clearly authorises the EC to conduct elections to local authorities in Malaysia. It is therefore perplexing that the EC Chairman continues to refuse to conduct local government elections in Penang. As the EC is the only legal authority that is empowered to conduct local government elections, the Penang state government has no choice but to seek a court declaration to compel the EC to abide and obey the Penang state government’s directives.
LIM GUAN ENG
—Mandarin Translation —-