Redrawing constituency boundaries: Electoral Commission, courts must act in voters’ interest

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Source: freemalaysiatoday.com

The Coalition for Free and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) is disappointed with the Court of Appeal’s decision to allow the Electoral Commission to proceed with the execution of local inquiries for parliamentary and state constituencies in Selangor, setting aside the decision by the High Court.

Bersih 2.0 finds that the push by the commission for a judgment at the courts is not in the interest of pursuing its mandate of ensuring clean and fair elections, nor does it mean to enshrine and protect the rights of the voter.

Rather, judicial avenues are used to advance and implement unfair redrawn boundaries for the coming elections, given the commission’s discretionary powers under existing laws and the fact that the substance and underlying issues in the objection have not yet been decided.

Despite ample time for the Electoral Commission to complete its delineation exercise, the commission has chosen to propel the cases on redelineation forward despite significant objections on the grounds of missing addresses, malapportionment and gerrymandering, to name a few.

To proceed to hold local inquiries without establishing nor resolving the concerns addressed in the objections in the courts will result in:

  • ineffectiveness by way of implementation
  • waste of government resources, and
  • failure to take into account electoral best practices and respect for the right of voters.
READ MORE:  Give reasonable time for court hearing: Have fair, just redelineation

The expediency of the delineation matters pushed through courts at lightning speed does not allow sufficient time to respond to developments in the case, as illustrated below​:​

  • 7 December: Stay on the local inquiry was granted at High Court
  • 11 December: Selangor government received notice of the appeal
  • 14 December: First hearing
  • 18 December: Second hearing and decision

The Electoral Commission and the courts are avenues of justice and provide recourse to address errors and wrongs in electoral matters. They must act for the people and in the people’s interest; as such, they should not follow the government’s election calendar when dealing with issues of redelineation.

“The rights of the voter is the basis for any democracy. Without a voter, there is no basis for a government. The constitution empowers the people to choose their own government. As such, it is the role of the EC and all government bodies to respect, uphold and protect the interest and rights of the voter,” says Bersih chairperson, Maria Chin Abdullah.

Despite the impracticality of holding local inquiries at a time when most Malaysians would have been on holiday or celebrating the New Year, local inquiries were expected to take place anytime soon.

Bersih 2.0 calls on those who filed objections against unfair delineation in Selangor in September 2016 to be on stand-by and expect to receive a notice from the Electoral Commission. If you have not received by now, do call the commission at 03 5519 4273 to ensure that you do not miss the inquiry and the opportunity to make your objections heard and represented.

READ MORE:  Electoral Commission should resign over scandalous 'Selangor by-pass' in redelineation

For further information, please contact Bersih 2.0 at 011 28605720 or send an email to outreach@bersih.org.

Bersih 2.0 steering committee

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