• More mistakes by the Election Commission in the 2nd Public Display of the 2016 Delimitation Exercise (or “Syor 2”)?

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Member of Parliament of Serdang, 17th of March, 2017

    More mistakes by the Election Commission in the 2nd Public Display of the 2016 Delimitation Exercise (or “Syor 2”)?

    Yesterday, I highlighted two possible mistakes by the Election Commission in the 2nd public display of the 2016 delimitation exercise (referred to as “Syor 2” here on). There was a case of a ‘missing’ polling station in Johor and also a case of a new polling station in Pahang.

    In today’s statement, I want to highlight 10 cases where the number of voters in polling stations have been changed from the first public display (Syor 1) to the second public display (Syor 2). Why is this an issue? Think of the delimitation exercise as one big jigsaw puzzle. Each polling station is one piece of the jigsaw puzzle. From Syor 1 to Syor 2, the Election Commission can shift polling stations from one state seat to another, but it cannot change the size and composition of the individual polling stations. The reasoning is simple: If voters are shifted from one polling station to another between Syor 1 and Syor 2, there is no way for the voters to know if they are the ones who have been shifted. This would obviously affect their constitutional right to object to the delimitation exercise under Syor 2.

    For example, in Syor 1, the Taman Temiang Jaya polling station in the N12 Temiang state seat under the P128 Seremban parliament seat had 2994 voters (See Figure 1 below)

    Figure 1: Taman Temiang polling station with 2994 voters in N12 Temiang under the P128 Seremban parliament seat

    However, under Syor 2, the number of voters in the Taman Temiang Jaya polling station has decreased from 2994 voters to 2412 voters (See Figure 2 below). Note that the number of voters for the other polling stations remain the same. Note also, that I am not challenging the ability of the EC to shift polling stations from one state seat to another, which is what it has done to the Kampong Nee Yan polling station (from N12 Temiang to N11 Lobak). What I am challenging is the EC’s ability to change the composition of the individual polling stations and hence the number of voters in each polling station from Syor 1 to Syor 2.

    For example, if I am one of the 2994 voters in Taman Temiang Jaya in Syor 1, I have no idea if I am still a voter in Taman Temiang Jaya in Syor 2 or if I have been shifted to another polling station. So, I cannot make an objection even if I wanted to since I have no idea which polling station or which state seat or which parliament seat I will be voting in if Syor 2 is passed in parliament.

    Figure 2: Number of voters in Taman Temiang Jaya reduced from 2994 in Syor 1 to 2412 in Syor 2

    Another example of this mistake made by the EC is found in the Sura Gate polling station in the N27 Sura state seat under the P39 Dungun parliament seat. In Syor 1, the Sura Gate polling station has 1387 voters (Figure 3 below). In Syor 2, the number of voters in Sura Gate has been increased to 2550 (Figure 4 below).

    Figure 3: Sura Gate polling station in N27 Sura state seat in P39 Dungun parliament seat with 1387 voters in Syor 1

    Figure 4: Number of voters in Sura Gate polling station increased to 2550 in Syor 2

    In total, I identified 10 such cases, whereby the number of voters in each polling station was changed from Syor 1 to Syor 2. The full list of polling stations is listed in Table 1 below.

    The EC needs to state if it has made a mistake in changing the number of voters in these polling stations from Syor 1 to Syor 2. The failure to do so may mean that the constitutional right of certain voters to voice their objections to the delimitation exercise proposal in Syor 2 are affected.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    Table 1: 10 Polling Stations where the number of voters have changed from Syor 1 to Syor 2

  • Did SPR make mistakes in Syor 2 of the Delimitation Exercise by excluding existing polling stations and adding in new polling stations?

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 16th of March, 2017

    Did SPR make mistakes in Syor 2 of the Delimitation Exercise by excluding existing polling stations and adding in new polling stations?

    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 for Peninsular Malaysia (excluding Selangor). This notice was published in the Federal Gazette[1], in mainstream newspapers and can also be found in land offices and district offices in each state in Peninsular Malaysia.

    By going through the first delimitation proposal first published on the 15th of September, 2016 (Syor 1) and the second delimitation proposal published on the 8th of March, 2017 (Syor 2), I was able to identify polling districts (or daerah mengundi) which were included in Syor 1 but were excluded in Syor 2. For example, the polling district of Kampong Teratai, with 876 voters, was listed under the state constituency of N9 Gambir under P144 Ledang in the state of Johor (Figure 1 below). This was one of the many polling stations that were taken out of the P143 Pagoh parliament seat and moved into the P144 Ledang parliament seat.

    Figure 1: Kampong Teratai polling station with 876 voters in N9 Gambir under P144 Ledang in Johor, published in Syor 1 on the 15th of September, 2016

    Surprisingly, in Syor 2, the Kampong Teratai polling district is missing. So where did this polling station go? Why does this matter? The reason why this matters is because if the 876 voters in Kampong Teratai do not know which state and parliamentary seat they have been placed, they cannot object to the delimitation exercise as shown in Syor 2. Hence, they would be deprived of their constitutional right to object, which is spelt out in Section 5 of the Thirteenth Schedule of the Federal Constitution.

    As it turns out, it is likely that the Kampong Teratai polling station was moved back to the P143 Pagoh parliamentary constituency under the N7 Bukit Kepong state constituency. The total number of voters in N7 Bukit Kepong is given as 27350 in Syor 2 (See Figure 2 below) but the sum of voters obtained by adding up the number of voters in the 26 polling stations in N7 Bukit Kepong shown in Syor 2 is only 26474.[2] This means there is a different of 876 voters in N7 Bukit Kepong which, coincidentally is also the number of voters in the Kampung Teratai polling station which is missing from Syor 2.

    Figure 2: The 26 polling stations in N7 Bukit Kepong (under P143 Pagoh) in Syor 2 showing 27350 voters but adds up to only 26474 voters (difference of 876 voters)

    If the Election Commission (EC) has indeed made a mistake by leaving out the Kampong Teratai polling district from the N7 Bukit Kepong state seat, it should immediately publish a correction in the gazette and in the mainstream newspapers. Failure to do so may mean that this second public notice is unconstitutional.

    At the same time, I also found examples of where new polling stations were added in Syor 2. While the Election Commission has the right to add new polling stations, it must do so under Section 7 (2) of the Elections Act 1958. The Election Commission reconfigured existing and added new polling stations on the 29th of April, 2016 under this provision in the Elections Act 1958. (See Figure 3 below).

    Figure 3: Reconfiguring existing and adding new polling stations under Section 7 (2) of the Elections Act 1958 (Announced in the Federal Gazette on the 29th of April, 2016)

    If the Election Commission had wanted to add in new polling stations, it must do so under Section 7 (2) of the Elections Act 1958. It cannot do so between Syor 1 and Syor 2 of the delimitation exercise. But this was exactly what the Election Commission did when it added in the new polling station of Taman Rimba in the state constituency of N30 Mentakab under the P88 Temerloh parliamentary constituency in Syor 2 (See Figure 4 below). Taman Rimba was not a polling station in Syor 1 of the delimitation exercise.

    The adding of new polling stations affects the ability of voters to make objections to the delimitation exercise as shown in Syor 2 since voters may not know that they have been assigned to the new polling station such as the one created in N30 Mentakab. If this is the case, then their constitutional right, under Section 5 of the Thirteenth Schedule of the Federal Constitution, will be affected.

    Figure 4: Addition of a new polling station called Taman Rimba in Syor 2 in N30 Mentakab, P88 Temerloh

    Based on the evidence presented here, the Election Commission should immediately answer the following two questions: (i) have polling stations which were originally in Syor 1 been mistakenly left out in Syor 2 (e.g. Kampong Teratai in N7 Bukit Kepong under P143 Pagoh) and (ii) have there been new polling stations created in Syor 2 and why was this not done under Section 7 (2) of the Elections Act 1958.

    Failure to do so would affect the constitutionality and the procedural validity of the entire delimitation exercise for the States of Malaya.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    Appendix 1: List of polling stations and number of voters in N7 Bukit Kepong in Syor 2

    [1] http://www.federalgazette.agc.gov.my/outputp/pub_20170308_PU%20(B)%20127%20(2)%20latest.pdf

    [2] Refer to Appendix 1 below to check the total number of voters as shown in Syor 2.

  • 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

  • The Election Commission must disclose which groups are responsible for registering a record 500k voters in the 2016 Third Quarter electoral roll update

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 9th of December, 2016

    The Election Commission must disclose which groups are responsible for registering a record 500k voters in the 2016 Third Quarter electoral roll update

    In the recently released Quarter 3, 2016 electoral roll update, an astounding 501,799 newly registered voters was added to the electoral roll. This is more than 5 times the number of newly registered voters in Quarter 2, 2016 and 5 times more than the number of newly registered voters just before the 2013 general elections (See Table 1 and Figure 1 below).

    There are many reasons for the record number of newly registered voters in Q3 2016. Many voters visited post offices to register themselves upon hearing the rumour that the registration deadline for the 14th general election, were it to be held in March 2017, was 30th September, 2016. There was also an increase in voter registration activities, organized by political parties and various NGOs, in cooperation with officials from the Election Commission.

    At the same time, one cannot help but be concerned that the voter registration activities are not being conducted on a level playing field. According to the 2015 Election Commission Annual Report, the EC appointed a total of 12,160 Assistant Registrars (AROs). 11,959 or 98.3% of the AROs are civil servants representing different government departments with only 48 or 0.4% representing political parties, 30 or 0.2% representing universities and 123 or 1.0% representing NGOs (See Table 2 and Figure 2 below)

    With civil servants making such a large % of the AROs, one cannot help but be concerned that some of these AROs from departments such as JASA, the Ministry of Information’s propaganda unit, are being used to register voters selectively, especially in the marginal parliament and state seats.

    In order to lessen the public’s fears that some of these AROs are not abusing their status, the Election Commission should publish a detailed breakdown of the number of new voters registered by civil servants according to department, by individual political parties, by student representatives in each university and by each NGO. Before the 13th general election, when many more political party representatives were appointed as AROs, the Election Commission used to publish the number of newly registered voters by political party. There is no reason why the EC cannot continue to disclose this information for all the AROs they have appointed.

    In addition, in order to level the playing field, the Election Commission should once again appoint representatives from political parties to be AROs especially since the EC themselves are often short-handed and cannot spare the time go to places such as pasar malams at night to register new voters.

    Better still, if the government can agree to Bersih’s demand of automatic registration of voters when they reach voting age, then doubts about the number of newly registered voters can be significantly reduced.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

  • Will Donald Trump’s victory encourage UMNO to pursue a similarly divisive path in Malaysia?

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, 9th of November, 2016

    Will Donald Trump’s victory encourage UMNO to pursue a similarly divisive path in Malaysia?

    I, like many others, am still reeling from the shock of Donald Trump’s unlikely victory in the US presidential elections. Most polls showed Hillary Clinton having narrow to comfortable leads in the swing states. Most prediction models including fivethirtyeight.com and the New York Time’s Upshot were predicting a Clinton victory. While much will be said in the next few days by academics, analysts and pundits, to explain Trump’s unlikely victory, my greater fear is what his victory may spell for us in Malaysia.

    Donald Trump eked out his stunning victory despite running a divisive campaign that played on the fears of the majority vis-à-vis the minorities, that made appeals to a narrow base of voters, that compelled Americans to look inwards rather than outwards and that was populist and short of policy substance. Not to mention the allegations of sexual assault that plagued his campaign just a month and a half ago.

    My fear for Malaysia is that UMNO may be following a similar playbook in the run up to the 14th general elections. There may be some who hope that Trump’s victory over an establishment figure like Hillary Clinton may be a precursor to a BN-UMNO defeat in GE14 brought about by Malaysians who are sick and tired of the ruling regime. But what is more likely is that UMNO will use the same politics of fear and divisiveness to pit the majority against the minorities and to win by appealing to a narrow base.

    We can already see some elements on this playbook in action. The tactics of the red shirts led by Jamal Yunos may be a precursor to more threats of violence. The recently proposed delimitation exercise was designed to dilute the effect of ethnically heterogenous or ‘mixed’ seats to enable UMNO to win by appealing to a narrower base. The attempts by UMNO to cosy up to PAS by allowing the amendment to Act 355 Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act to be tabled in parliament is also part of this playbook. My fear is that even more divisive strategies will be thought of and carried out in the run up to GE14.

    These steps were already in UMNO’s playbook before Trump’s victory. My greatest fear for Malaysia is that Trump’s victory will only embolden those in UMNO seeking to maintain power by emulating and expanding the Trumpean ‘winning’ strategy.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

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