Friday, April 19

‘Re-delineation exercise contravenes Elections Act’

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KUCHING: The process of re-delineating the electoral boundaries in Sarawak that started on Jan 5 to increase the number of seats in the State Legislative Assembly is the first to be implemented without increasing Parliamentary seats.

Because the parliamentary boundaries remained unchanged, the Election Commission (EC)’s exercise conflicted with Section 7 of the Elections Act 1958 (Act 19), claimed Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar.

“This showed that the EC was not interested to perform their duty fairly and equitably, but still worked as the 14th BN component. What the EC had done is only to ensure BN’s win in the Sarawak state election that is expected to be held early 2016,” she said in her debate speech when the re-delineation proposal was tabled by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak yesterday.

The motion was supported by 130 MPs with 72 opposing. With the passing of the motion, the state would see the number of state seats increased from 71 to 82.

Nurul Izzah, who is also PKR vice president and election director, said the EC’s action in circumventing the principles of justice and transparency in this re-delineation process gave justification to the Electoral Integrity Report (EIP) published by Electoral Integrity Project based in Harvard University and Sydney University on Feb 20.

“The EIP report listed Malaysia as a country that is at the bottom in the electoral boundaries and among the lowest in electoral laws.”

In addition, Nurul Izzah said the EC also did not respect the on-going judicial review to determine whether the Federal Court’s decision on the case filed by Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How and an Ulu Baram voter Pauls Baya fulfilled the requirements of the law or not.

“It is also clear that the EC did not respect the High Court’s decision on May 25 this year, where High Court Judge Datuk Yew Jen Kie decided that the re-delineation notice issued by the EC was void, because it was not according to the 13th Schedule of the Federal Constitution.

“She (Yew) also directed the EC to republish its public notice “in full compliance with the provisions contained in the 13th Schedule of the Federal Constitution”.

She said it was disheartening when BN did not want to hear the people’s voice that they wanted a healthier democracy, and give opportunity to the people to really choose their desired government, adding what the EC was doing was known as ‘gerrymandering’.

Nurul Izzah said it was clear that this re-delineation exercise by EC was to give a ‘lifeline” to BN, adding every time when electoral boundaries re-delineation is conducted, it would only give advantage to BN.

“After so long, the government must immediately apply Democracy Restoration Agenda. The first thing that must be taken is to restore the electoral system. The EC cannot continue to close one eye with the reports that stated that the electoral system in Malaysia is flawed. A genuine electoral reformation must be conducted, starting with the revamp of the EC.”

On the re-delineation exercise, she said the EC must go through the consultation process with various stakeholders including non-governmental organisations, as well as Malaysians who are interested before making any decisions on the re-delineation.