Categorised | Letters to the Editor

Consult civil society on councillor appointments

THE Coalition of Good Governance (CGG) congratulates the Selangor government for maintaining the 25% civil society quota in the appointment of local councillors.

However, we are concerned that there may be a repeat of last year’s incident where many non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and professional councillors were left off the list. They were only confirmed much later after some intense lobbying. Furthermore, it was also observed that some of the NGO and professional appointees were actually political party members with party positions.

It is also worrying to note that for the third time round, there was no consultation with civil society on the councillors’ appointment.

CGG is therefore keen to see a spirit of openness and consultation with civil society in the appointment of capable councillors. CGG strongly urges the Selangor government to strictly follow this allocation and to appoint credible NGOs and professionals with proven track record and expertise in their fields.

Any appointment, removal or transfer of NGO/professional councillors must be based on clear and transparent criteria fairly and reasonably applied. When the CGG was formed in 2008 with 26 member organisations, we recommended a set of criteria for the appointment of councillors. This was presented to the public as well as to the Selangor government.

In brief, the recommendations are:

  1. Appointment of councillors must be a participatory process.
  2. Representation to reflect the diversity of interests in society.
  3. Councillors should be local residents.
  4. All appointees should have the measures of competence, merit and integrity.
  5. In adhering to the principles of transparency, accountability and open consultation:
  6. (a) each state government should list and publish its criteria for membership in local authorities. Local residents should be invited to nominate suitable candidates.

    (b) the list of nominees and their curriculum vitae should be publicly displayed.

    (c) short-listed candidates should speak at public forums so as to enable interaction with local residents. Public opinion should be taken into consideration by the state government in making the final appointments.

  7. Councillors should prepare timely annual reports related to their portfolios. These reports should be published and made publicly available. Citizens may petition the state government for termination of any councillor whose performance is unsatisfactory.

While the Selangor government has yet to take concrete steps to introduce local council elections, it can demonstrate more openness by including civil society in its appointment process.

We strongly urge Ronnie Liu, the exco for local government and research, to meet with CGG to discuss and screen the current appointment of NGO councillors in the interest of transparency and accountability.

Jeffrey Phang
Coalition for Good Governance

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3 Responses to “Consult civil society on councillor appointments”

  1. siew eng says:

    These demands are not new to Ronnie Liu. What’s stopping him from acceding to them? What is he not saying? And why?

  2. Correction please!

    Dream on, Jeff. Somehow some in civil society are beginning to claim their rights to be valid stakeholders in the governing process in Selangor. I wonder how does a State Exco like YB Ronnie Liu make a decision on which NGOs deserve to be on the lists of consultants. There are more than 40,000 NGOs in the country and what are the benchmarks for selection?
    What are the criteria to be used? Only validly registered NGOs as approved by the ROS are legal entities which can come into agreement in MoUs. How is the public involved in the selection or [ensure that] NGO representatives represent their interests.
    Does un-registered Coalitions of Civil Society have any legal standing to represent the interest of the public they claim to represent?
    Unless these issues are dealt with, the demand of CGG to be part of the consultation process is ridiculous! I rest my case.

  3. Why only 25%? Why not 75% to reflect ‘people’s power’ instead of ‘government power’? Or should 50% for both be fairer since the government is the people after all? This concentrates decision making in a manner that might not be fair to the residents.

    And where are those local council elections as promised?

    This is written for the benefit of the readers, and not because TNG has been forgiven for misrepresenting some of my earlier posted comments. Be mature and ethical towards the internet community TNG !

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