I AGREE with the suggestion by Datuk Dr Goh Ban Lee that cities be allowed to hold municipal elections.
Democracy is a concept of citizens choosing their government, not only at the central but also at the state and local levels.
In fact, the most direct experience that citizens have with representative government is at the local level.
Local governments are also the best training ground for politicians to learn the art of public service and prove their skills in managing problems.
One argument about municipal elections is that the opposition parties usually win big, as they are stronger in the urban areas, giving them an advantage to nominate their own candidate to be city mayors. This has rattled some as they do not like the idea of the ruling party at the federal level giving up its power of appointments as it has been used to controlling everything from KL.
In a democracy, its a fundamental principle that power should not be too heavily concentrated at the centre but should be shared with lower levels of government not only by having local elections but also by decentralising the administrative and financial powers of the central government to the states and local authorities.
Sabah and Sarawak have brought up their demand for decentralisation into the open. Peninsula states should also join the call for decentralisation of federal powers by having local elections at the city level and by granting states more administrative and financial autonomy.
This will expedite decision making on matters affecting daily life at the ground level, and reduce the patronage, cronyism and nepotism associated with a highly centralised system of government.
Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim