RE-ESTABLISHING local elections across all states is one way the new political forces in Malaysia can strengthen democracy overall in the country, according to a blogger.
On his blog, lawyer-cum-human-rights activist Charles Hector questioned whether the Terengganu ban on unisex hair salons can be overturned and whether a democratic state has the authority to prohibit such practices.
He claimed that while the ban requires gender segregation in hair salons, it could be implemented in other areas of Terengganu society such as prohibiting male doctors from treating female patients.
He further argued whether Terengganu’s state government or local councils are responsible for enforcing the ban.
Admitting that it is the state government that has the power in the PAS-run state, he noted that the state government has jurisdiction over the entire state while the local councils have to abide by State laws.
“Likewise, the States too, have to abide by all Federal laws, unless our Constitution says that such matters are specifically under the jurisdiction of the State,” Hector wrote.
“The Constitution (and/or State Constitutions) should have also clearly stated what matters come under the jurisdiction of Local Governments,.”
On the other hand, the local government has the power to permit what businesses can operate within its jurisdiction and this touches on annual licenses that are issued in the state. It even controls the signboards of businesses.
“It can also set conditions on businesses operating within its jurisdiction,” he pointed out.
He also stated that the local government is very important but unfortunately in Malaysia, “the ‘rakyat’ lost the right to elect its wakil rakyat since the mid-60s, allegedly because of the Indonesian Confrontation, and never got back that right.
“Now, it is the State Government that appoints the Local Councilors and the Mayor/President of Local Council,” he added.
To overcome the ‘ordeal’ that businesses are going through in some states, the author believes the federal government should bring back local council elections.
“Malaysians must be given the right to elect their wakil rakyat to local government(Local Councils) – Pakatan Harapan (PH) promised us this, and before they gave us local council elections, they were ousted. Perikatan Nasional (PN)-Barisan Nasional (BN) Plus also said that we will soon have local council elections,” Hector remarked.
“Hopefully, our new government will do the needful and restore local council (local government) elections so that the people will democratically elect their representatives in local government and abolish politically appointed local Councils, which by the way are never seen to be the people’s representatives at all.” – Dec 12, 2022
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