• The 2nd public display of the delimitation exercise for Peninsular Malaysia without Selangor is highly questionable and unconstitutional

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming on the 9th of March, 2017

    The 2nd public display of the delimitation exercise for Peninsular Malaysia without Selangor is highly questionable and unconstitutional

    Yesterday, on the 8th of March, 2017, the Election Commission (EC) published a notice to announce the official start of the 2nd round of the public display for the 2016 constituency delimitation exercise. This announcement was published in the mainstream press and as a Federal Government Gazette. This move by the EC is unprecedented in the history of delimitation exercises in Malaysia because it excludes the parliament and state seats in the state of Selangor in the 2nd public display. This move is also highly questionable and very likely, unconstitutional.

    According to Article 113 (6) of the Federal Constitution, there shall be separate reviews undertaken in each delimitation exercise for the “States of Malaya and for each of the States of Sabah and Sarawak”. The Federal Constitution also clearly states that the delimitation exercise for the States of Malaya (or ‘Tanah Melayu’) – in other words, Peninsular Malaysia[1] – must be undertaken as a single unit of review. The delimitation exercise for the States of Malaya cannot be presented in parliament without the inclusion of Selangor.

    This begs the question of why the EC is pushing through with this 2nd public display without Selangor. The delimitation exercise for Selangor is currently being challenged by the Selangor state government in the High Court. This legal challenge – the first time that a delimitation exercise has been challenged by a state government – has prevented the EC from starting the local enquiry process and hearing the objections to the delimitation exercise in Selangor. The legal challenge by the Selangor state government is a highly important check and balance on the ability of the EC to redraw boundaries in an arbitrary fashion, not just in Selangor, but also in other states in Peninsular Malaysia that is part of the same ‘unit of review’.

    Going by past precedent, the EC should wait for the decision of the High Court on the Selangor case before taking the next step in the delimitation process. But in the event that the High Court rules in favor of the Selangor state government, the EC cannot proceed with the public inquiry in Selangor. The EC would instead be forced to appeal the decision in the Court of Appeals and perhaps all the way to the Federal Court in order to seek a favorable ruling. This would delay the EC from presenting the completed delimitation exercise for Peninsular Malaysia to the Prime Minister for parliamentary approval.

    The EC’s decision to announce the 2nd public display for all the states in Peninsular except for Selangor shows that it may want to push through a delimitation exercise that leaves the boundaries in Selangor as it is but with the proposed changes in the other states, many of which favours the BN. If the High Court rules in favor of the Selangor state government, the EC may propose a delimitation plan to the Prime Minister with no changes in the state of Selangor to be passed in the July / August 2017 parliamentary sitting.

    The 2nd public display of the constituency delimitation exercise for Peninsular Malaysia must be challenged in court because it is unconstitutional. The actions of the EC have once again shown that it is not the independent body it should be and that Malaysians must continue to advocate for a strong and independent Election Commission.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    [1] Including the Federal Territory of Labuan

Leave a reply.