Call for an Independent Committee to handle the upcoming constituency delimitation as the integrity and independent of the Election Commission is highly questionable

Media Statement by the Pakatan Rakyat Committee on the Constituency Delimitation Exercise on the 26th of March 2014

In presenting the findings of the People’s Tribunal on the 13th General Election, the same tribunal recommended the establishment of a new and independent federal authority to handle the upcoming constituency delimitation exercise.

The Pakatan Rakyat Committee on the Constituency Delimitation exercise supports this recommendation on the premise that the current Election Commission’s integrity and independence is highly questionable. The fact that the former Chairman of the Election Commission, Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman admitted that he conducted previous constituency delimitation exercises to maintain Malay power rather than to keep to constitutional principles confirms that the EC cannot be relied upon to conduct an impartial and fair constituency delimitation exercise.

As such, we call upon the federal government to establish an independent federal authority similar to the Boundary Delimitation Commissions in the United Kingdom to carry out the upcoming delimitation exercise in an impartial and independent manner. We note that the Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reform had recommended that the functions of the Election Commission be split into three – conducting elections, registering voters and constituency delimitation. It would be most appropriate for the government to implement this recommendation by setting up this new independent federal authority before the upcoming constituency delimitation exercise.[1] This federal authority should comprise of well-respected civil servants, academics and judges / lawyers with expertise in constituency delimitation and related matters.

The upcoming constituency delimitation exercise promises to be the most contentious in Malaysian history because any increases to the number of parliament seats would require a constitutional amendment that would require the consent of Members of Parliament from Pakatan Rakyat. In addition, any increase in the number of state seats in Kelantan, Penang and Selangor would require the amendment of the state constitutions of the three states where Pakatan ADUNs comprise of more than 2/3rds of the respective state assemblies. Increases in the state seats in Terengganu, Kedah, Perak and Negeri Sembilan would also require constitutional amendments in those states where the consent of PR ADUNs are required since they comprise more than 1/3rd of the respective state assemblies.

If the BN is sincere about passing any constituency delimitation exercise that is impartial and fair, it should establish an independent constituency delimitation committee rather than to rely on the current Election Commission that is biased and impartial to conduct the upcoming constituency delimitation exercise.

Dr Hatta Ramli (PAS)
Datuk Mansor Othman (PKR)
Dr Ong Kian Ming (DAP)

[1] Section 18.2 of the Report of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reform.