Malaysia, May 12, 10 participants, Organizer: Persatuan Aliran Kesedaran Negara (Aliran)
The focus group discussion on participatory local democracy in Malaysia was held in the
Penang Institute in Jalan Brown, Penang. Ten people were present: they included a former cabinet member of the Penang state government, three current or previous local authority councillors, and others from academia, NGOs, media, including a couple of lawyers who are familiar with local government laws and procedures.
All present agreed that the scope of participation and familiarity with local governance was generally low among Malaysians, not least because local government elections have been abolished since 1976. Thereafter, all councillors have been appointed by the ruling state governments. The exception was in the two Opposition-led states wherein freedom of information enactments were passed since 2009, and steps taken to introduce not only CAT (competent, accountable and transparent) governments, but to restore local government elections. It was in this latter regard that the participants were somewhat hopeful for participatory local democracy in the future
– Francis Loh Kok Wah, President of Aliran