Published: Monday March 11, 2013 MYT 6:57:00 PM
Penang, Ramakrishnan file petition to restore local elections
by NURBAITI HAMDAN
PUTRAJAYA: The Penang state government is petitioning the Federal Court in a bid to restore local government elections within the state.
The state government, together with P. Ramakrishnan as the second petitioner, named the Malaysian Government and the Elections Commission (EC) as respondents.
The petition as well as a leave application to initiate court proceedings on the matter were filed through the firm Messrs Tommy Thomas at the Federal Court registry on Monday. Ramakrishnan, former Aliran president, and Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng were both present at the filing.
The petitioners sought a declaration that the state government, through its state legislature, has the sole and exclusive jurisdiction to enact laws in respect of local government elections in the state.
They sought a declaration that Sections 10 and 15 of the Local Government Act 1976, in so far they prevent the state legislature from providing for local government elections within their states, is ultra vires the powers of the Federal Parliament under the Federal Constitution and therefore void.
The petition further sought the EC to be validly authorised and required to conduct local government elections within the state or otherwise assist in the conduct of the elections in accordance with its constitutional obligation.
Lim, who spoke to reporters after the filing, said it was a historic suit against the Federal Government and the EC.
“This is a question of the state's right, whether it has the power to conduct its own affair.
"(The restoration of local government elections) ensures the democracy for local council. This is the first step and it (restoration) should also be adopted by other states. Penang is taking the lead,” he said.
Lawyer Tommy Thomas represented the state government.
Lim reportedly said that local government elections in the Penang Municipal Council (MPPP) and Seberang Prai Municipal Council (MPSP) should be restored as it was a state matter.
“The state legislature has jurisdiction to hold local government elections under the Ninth Schedule and Article 113(4) of the Federal Constitution.
“The state has informed the EC that the Local Government Elections (Penang Island and Province Wellesley) Enactment 2012 would come into force in Penang by Jan 31 this year.
“However, the state failed to obtain any commitment from the EC to conduct the elections for MPPP and MPSP in accordance with the enactment,” he said.