View Full Version : A counter-argument to the third vote

23-10-2005, 02:42 AM
NST 22-October. Wavelength by John Teo


Reviving local polls not the answer

SO the perception of the country’s level of corruption has been dragged down a peg or two because of the lack of transparency of local authorities.

Considering that our local authorities are hardly the autonomous third branch of government that they used to be, I fail to see how Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk M. Kayveas’ recent tirade against them will not be viewed as a case of cutting the nose to spite the face.

Local authoritieshave their faults. But since local councils are all appointed by the Government — either State or Federal — any government representative pointing the accusing finger in the direction of local authorities is indirectly pointing that finger at himself. However, going by the gist of what the Deputy Minister in question said, I am not sure this was what he intended.

One logical question arising out of this particular brouhaha is whether we should be reviving local council elections as an antidote to corruption and poor management within the local authorities.

One of the most enduring myths worldwide has been that greater democracy logically translates into less corruption.

If this were indeed true, someone please explain to me how it is that China consistently outranks India in the global corruption perception index.

Someone also needs to explain how it is that greater local democracy in Indonesia only seems to also mean greater corruption, or rather the "democratisation" of corruption to the local government level, as some would describe it.

To begin with, more elections mean more public expenses. If those elections do not necessarily translate into greater public accountability and therefore less corruption, why incur those extra expenses?

If anything, local elections will guarantee greater distraction of local officials. There will be fund-raising chores, almost non-stop electioneering, vested interests to pander to, the whole works.

The whole of Sarawak is clean — I mean that literally. There are clean streets, mostly unclogged drains and hardly a hawker hogging road pavements and giving our towns the unkempt look.

The two city mayors of Kuching are currently somewhat embroiled with public battles of their own but getting re-elected is not the worry. They do have to worry though whether their political masters at State level — and these will have to worry about re-election — will re-appoint them if they lose their respective public battles.

The mayor of Kuching North is currently battling traders who seem adamant in wanting to do their business within residential areas, in residential premises.

The mayor of Kuching South is fretting whether the coming year-end rains will again wash away his efforts to keep his city flood-free.

They not only have to worry about re-appointments. Opposition parties are entering the fray, finding common cause with the city’s illegal traders .

How these political battles ultimately play out will only have an indirect impact on both mayors in that the outcomes redound on their appointing source: the State Government.

The transparency question in local authorities needs to be worked on but that applies throughout the entire government machinery and all branches of it.

It has to start at the very top because only then will it permeate down to the lowest levels of government.

As to the accountability bit, I do not think the two unelected mayors of Kuching, by way of example, suffer from a lack of it.

In fact I sleep better, greatly assured that this city will be maintained to its usual high standards, in the knowledge that among the many burdens of office, having to worry about getting re-elected is not among the mayors.


Link to article here. (http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/NST/Saturday/Columns/20051022084111/Article/indexb_html)

23-10-2005, 09:18 AM
I think the biggest joke here is that Kuching needs 2 mayors :mad: Perhaps in Sarawak there are too many component parties so have to have bigger pie to share out. Think of it, two sets of everything, council building, mayors, mayors' car, councillors (+allowance), lawatan sambil belajar. :(