The Penang state exco has removed Johari Kassim as councillor of the Seberang Prai Municipal Council (MPSP) with effect from 26 June.
Johari, the PKR whip at the council, had led a boycott of the swearing-in ceremony of new council president Mokhtar Mohd Jait, a former district officer of northern Seberang Perai. Johari claimed that the Council president’s post was reserved for PKR.
It remains to be seen what effect his removal will have on DAP-PKR relations in the state, although reports indicate PKR leaders have been consulted. Johari’s removal was a stern warning by the state government to the other MPSP councillors who followed him in the boycott, a state exco member was reported as saying.
One critic, however, labelled the sacking as “another indication of the arrogance and authoritarian tendencies” of the present administration.
Part of the problem is that some of the leaders and members of the Pakatan parties still have the BN mentality of viewing appointments to municipal council posts as rewards for faithful service rendered to their respective parties over the years. Such appointments have sometimes even caused discontentment among the parties’ own loyal veteran supporters who may feel they have been overlooked by newcomers ‘parachuted’ in.
To avoid all this unpleasantness, it would much better and more democratic to bring back local council elections, including elections for the post of mayor or council president.
In another development, friends of mine in Taman Merbau in Butterworth, which falls under MPSP jurisdiction, have complained that they were traumatised by the harsh methods used by dog-catchers in the area a couple of weeks ago. “We couldn’t bring ourselves to have our lunch after that,” they told me.