16 Aug 2012 Press Statement: Local Democracy Festival 2012


Press Statement (16 Aug 2012)

Local democracy is all about the things that affect our daily activities, from rubbish collection,to
parking space, safety in our neighbourhoods to green areas for recreation. It may seem foreign
to some of us especially those born after the 1950’s and 1960’s but in actual fact, it has been a
part of our history. In 1951, as part of the move towards independence for Malaya, the British
colonial authorities reintroduced local elections of nine of the fifteen municipal commissioners
for George Town. Kuala Lumpur followed shortly thereafter, holding its first local elections the
year after. By 1956, George Town had become the first municipality in the Federation of Malaya
to have a fully elected council.

Taking democracy to the grassroot level allows people to take both an interest in and a
responsibility for the decisions that affect their lives and the lives of others. As citizens, we
should also have a say in how our money is spent and hold our representatives accountable. It is
also a government’s role to always protect and uphold the rights of the people. Hence we believe
one way that can bring the voices of the masses to the top is by actively participating in local
democracy in all levels.

A wide range of avenues are available in Local Democracy Festival 2012 for people to get
involved. One of which is a forum on how to prepare for local elections and to help make
Penang’s move to reintroduce the third vote a process that is built from the bottom up. The
festival will continue to build on activities, which appeal to diverse issues concerning citizen
participation. History and culture enthusiasist can take a ‘heritage tour’ of council-built projects
from the 1950s/60s, guided by Dato’ Anwar Fazal, the young can get a headstart in policy
debates in Youth Parliament and all are invited to join in the fun at the refugee carnival mainly
funded by UNHCR. Besides that, community-based trainings on governance, a forum on media
freedom and street musical performances will be held through a two-month window from
August-October 2012.

It is an honour once again to receive the support the Penang State Government via the office
of YB Chow Kon Yeow, State Executive responsible for Local Government and Traffic
Management. As Organising Secreatariat, Suaram Penang will coordinate the organising of
events with the help of PWDC, JUMP, ALIRAN, The Association of Chinese Journalists and
Press Photographers, Penang (PEWAJU), Sembang-sembang Forum and the People’s Green

Members of the public who are interested to find out further details regarding the specific
programs can do so via:



TEL: 04-6582285 (Office hours, weekdays)
EMAIL: localdemocracypg@gmail.com

Events Calendar

Date Programme
16th August Press Conference
21st August Free and Fair Access to Media Forum
8th September Busking
9th September Official Launch at Speaker’s Square
Democratic Heritage Tour
15th September What Kind of Local Elections do we want?
29th & 30th September Refugee Carnival
6th October Planning & Local Democracy
6th & 7th October Community Training
12th-14th October Youth Parliment


On behalf of the Organising Secretariat,

Lee Hui Fei
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
Penang Branch Coordinator


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