(Please read the motions passed in the policy reform discussion on 23 March 2018 at KLSCAH)
As the 14th General Election is looming, a group of citizens called upon the federal government and state governments to restore local council election and return the third vote to the people.
They argued that the local council is most relevant to the daily life of ordinary people, it is crucial for a community to elect qualified and competent representatives who can serve the people. Unfortunately the right to elect people’s local representatives was usurped by the federal authority in 1960s.
“The current appointment system of local councillors lacks accountability because they do not need to face discontent from community, there is no check and balance by the residents if any councilor does not perform. It is very unfair for the tax payers who supposedly determine the direction of local planning and development.” Says Lee Soo Wei, who represented the Youth Section of KL and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall to move the motion.
Local council elections had been practiced in Malaysia even before the independence, such as the Penang Municipal Council Election in 1951 and Kuala Lumpur Municipal Council Election in 1952. local council election was suspended in 1965 when Indonesia launched Konfrontasi against Malaya. It has never been revived after that.
About 40 citizens made the call in the policy reform discussion session organized by the Civil Society Caucus for Policy Reform that was held at KL and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall on 23 March 2018.
The group deliberated 35 proposed motions and passed 26 of them. Among the motions passed are restoration of local council election; enactment of anti-torture act to curb death in custody; review the National Cultural Policy to prioritise culture and arts of all ethnic groups; review the national energy policy to maximise utility and deepen decarbonisation, and propose Women to be paid fair and just wages.
Free education for all has become a heatedly debate topic in the discussion. Sharan Raj from Demanding Free Education Movement (GMPP) contended that education is basic human right, the government has a duty to provide free tertiary education including acquire the private universities under the 15 government-linked companies.
However, Chong Kok Boon argued that free tertiary education is not sustainable. He suggested the government to consolidate the resources for higher education, combine and reduce number of higher education institutions (HEIs) and convert all HEIs to non-profit charity organizations entitled to subsidies per student.
The list of motions passed in the policy reform discussion is as follows :
1. Review the National Cultural Policy 1971, prioritise culture and arts of all ethnic groups, instead of focusing on cultures of native people in the region.
2. Review the National Cultural Policy 1971, remove the element of religion, because cultures of ethnic groups change over time, but religion never change
3. Review the National Cultural Policy 1971, set up a cultural and art council that represented by multiethnic practitioners of cultural activities and artists. The purpose is to determine the administration and management on matters relating to culture and arts in Malaysia
4. Education is a human rights and not commodity for sale. Therefore, the government is responsible in ensuring education is given by free from pre-school to the first bachelor degree. The government should ensure access to education by providing school bus transportation for free in rural area.
5. Revise National Energy Policy to maximising utility, deep decarbonisation and minimise the socio-economical gaps across the country
6. Amend the 30(3)(a) article of Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act, change the interrogation time “from day to day” to “from day to day but limit to 6 hours.
7. Enact Anti-Torture Act to curb violence by all enforcement agency officers including MACC, Police, immigration and prison officers. Any officers commits such offence is liable on conviction to imprisonment from 15 years to life imprisonment, or / and a fine from ten thousands to one hundred thousand
8. Ratification of United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT)
9. Compulsory human rights education for all Public servants
10. Amend the constitution and related existing laws to institute recall mechanism for elected representatives
11. Abolish electoral deposit system that violates everyone’s right to run for political office, the government should replace it with a petition system where MP candidate should collect 600 signatures and ADUN candidate should collect 300 signatures to qualify his / her candidacy
12. Implement a land rights policy to ensure all marginalised communities or individuals are entitled to lands, such as indigenous people, urban settlers, farmers and the poor
13. Set up transitional justice commission to provide remedy for victims and punish perpetrators of all past wrongdoings under the previous regimes
14. Demand the federal government and state governments to restore local council election, return the third vote to the people
15. Reinstate the 15% upper limit of voter disparity among parliamentary seats
16. Implement Propositional Electoral System, base on total number of votes obtained by political parties to determine number of parliamentary seats.
17. Enact Animal Protection Act to respect and protect animal life in Malaysia
18. Amend land code to recognize the right to native customary land of indigenous people
19. Ratify International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families
20. Enact a Social Inclusion Act to develop and implement an integrated action plan to address the issue of serious marginalisation in Malaysian society.
21. the Federal Government reprioritise the budget allocation among ministries, and dedicate at least 3.5% (world average) to 6.2% (OECD average) GDP to health
22. Respect women workers’ rights and their contribution to the economy by reviewing the labour laws to ensure they are compatible with International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions
23. Women must be paid fair and just wages and earn benefits without discrimination
24. Women returning to work after a lapse of some period should be allowed to return to their previous positions or any other employment without discrimination of pay, leave and other benefits
25. Protect the rights of women workers in the informal sector especially domestic workers and ratify ILO Convention 189
26. Affordable or free child care services must be provided for workers with children near or at the workplace
Civil Society Caucus fpr Policy Reform is jointly endorsed by Agora Society, MEONET, Youth Section of KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy, OHMSI, Youth Section of Melaka Chinese Assembly Hall, Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM),Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (MADPET), Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor (PSWS), Persatuan Aktivis Sahabat Alam (KUASA), Johor Yellow Flame (JYF),Sosialis Alternatif, Gerakan Menuntut Pendidikan Percuma