There are plenty of books on federal government and politics in Malaysia, but very few on local government. Yet it is the level of government that is closest to us and impacts our lives most directly, and is the one least understood by the average person in the street. This book addresses that problem.
Local Democracy Denied? takes a unique and comprehensive approach to discussing local government – one that is political, analytical, personal, historical, and forward looking. It begins with the author’s personal journey to becoming a councillor for six years on the Penang Island City Council, as a representative of civil society. It then provides a brief history of how local government in Malaysia evolved from the election to selection of local councillors.
There follows an examination of the structure of local government, its relationship with state governments, and some of the crucial functions it performs – planning, enforcement, and provision of urban services, filled with real stories of how council decisions are made and implemented, and the frequent gap between the two. The book ends with a call to revive local democracy by strengthening public participation in local government, empowering it and restoring local elections preferably based on proportional representation rather than first-past-the-post.