Athi Nahappan Report did not recommend the abolishment of local elections

By dismissing the call for local elections by the Penang and Selangor state governments, Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak is keeping Malaysia under a time warp, stuck in archaic political arrangements.

Such a move shows his refusal to move ahead with the times and give the people’s demand for democratisation due consideration.

The ruling coalition’s reluctance to revisit and amend the current political structure is unwittingly adding to the list of glaring policy differences between Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat.

The government also dismissed the call for the abolishment of the notorious and draconian Internal Security Act (ISA) and the call for police reforms based on the recommendations of the Royal Commission Report of 2005, among which proposed the formation of Independent Police Complaints and Misconducts Commission (IPCMC).

One brazen falsehood that the government is wielding to support its stance on the abolishment of local elections is that it was recommended by the Athi Nahappan report.

On the contrary, the 1968 Report of the Royal Commission of Enquiry into the Workings of Local Authorities in West Malaysia, led by Senator Datuk Athi Nahappan, concluded that,

“[….] weighing both the processes in a dispassionate manner we cannot but take cognizance of the fact that the merits of the elective process with all its inherent and attendant weaknesses, outweigh those of nominative process.

The Royal Commissioners further remarked that “nomination is no real substitute for elective representation. If anything, nomination is an anachronism and a relic of colonialism. It is antithetic to democracy“.

They added: “democracy with efficiency is always more desirable and better than efficiency without democracy“.

At the recommendation of the Athi Nahappan report and the persistent demand by the people for democratisation, the Penang and Selangor governments have decided to begin the process of local elections. It is time for the federal government to stop standing in the way of democracy.

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