The importance of local election

On Monday (18th of July 2016), KL City Hall or more commonly known by its initials DBKL raised the parking rates in Central Business District of Kuala Lumpur by more than 150% from 80 cent and hour to 2 ringgit for the first hour. It caused public outcry especially people who frequently do business in the city centre or work there. Despite the protest and generally negative feedback from city folks, there’s pretty much nothing they can do about it. They can’t show their displeasure at the polling booth and vote out the current mayor because there’s no local election to vote in.

This is why we need to have local elections for local governments (such as DBKL, MBPJ, MPSJ just to name a few) so that there will be accountability. Once the residents have the power to elect and kick out their mayor and local councillors, these fellas will be more responsible in enacting new laws or implementing new policies (like hiking the parking rate to 150%). Because they know if they do their jobs badly or at their wimp and fancy they will be gone at the next local election.

The reason we don’t have any local government elections is because the ruling federal government is afraid that these urban demographic will tend to vote opposition candidates and parties rather than them. Whether it’s to counter the enormous power and resources they held at federal level or just for check and balance, opposition candidates tend to do well in local elections all around the world. This notion is not always true and mostly moot nowadays because voters, especially well-educated urbanites are smarter than they think. They will always vote for the best candidate who does their job well regardless of their political affiliation. Whether you are from the ruling party or the opposition, suck at your job and it will be your last term at the office.

Hence why it is important to have local elections for local governments in Malaysia. So that mayors and their local government will be accountable and more considerate in their actions because they know they voters will show their approval or displeasure at the polling booths. And I doubt the move will succeed in reducing traffic congestion for as long as people have cars and the public transportation is not as well connected or efficient, people will still prefer to drive to the city. Even worse, private parking companies now will likely to increase their rates as well in line with the City Hall's move. In a related news, the company responsible for collecting the new parking rates is believed to be connected to important persons in the ruling party, something which is totally not surprising at all in this crony-capitalism country.

What is this, Afif is writing political commentary now? Get out of here!

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