Experts viewed Malaysia’s 13th general election as having low levels of integrity due to problematic electoral boundaries and election laws. Malaysia belonged in the last tier of countries with the worst electoral laws. Our electoral boundaries are so bad that we earned the last place in the rankings by the Electoral Integrity Project; we were given 28 points out of 100 – behind Cambodia at 44 and the Philippines at 61.
Such staggering rankings would support expectations that the Elections Commission salvage its reputation and immediately re do the delimitation process based on the Kuching High Court’s May 15 ruling – ordering the EC to review its proposed redelineation exercise in Sarawak.
The High Court found the previous redelineation exercise executed by the Election Commission faulty and failed to adhere to the proper process and requirements stipulated under the constitution and by laws.
The Honourable Judge Datuk Yew Jen Kie dismissed objections by the Respondents (EC) and Sarawak State Government that (1) the applicants lack locus standi; (2) Courts has no jurisdiction; and (3) this application is premature. The learned Judge further decided that this is not a frivolous application, that the contention of non-disclosure and/or lack of detailed particulars in the notice published warrant substantive argument.
In her judgment, the learned Judge examined the “detailed recommendations” in the Notice and was absolutely critical that they are lacking, questioning about voters not able to know whether they are being moved into new constituencies.
Despite the EC’s flawed decision to appeal the High Court’s findings, the recent hearing at the appellate court on the 9th of July praiseworthy nonetheless.
The panel of judges gave ample time for both parties to state its case ; although clearly it would hard pressed not to accept the submissions made by our legal team.
The study by the Election Commission took less than six months after the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly approved the amendment to the Sarawak state constitution to increase the number of state constituencies to 82 from 71.
Legal eagles Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan and Dr. Cyrus Das assisting YB See Chee How, argued substantially on the existence of various loopholes in the redelineation process that has been conducted by the Election Commision. The Election Commission must exercise full moral authority in ensuring it fully complies with regulations stipulated under the Federal Constitution; this is to ensure the EC commands the confidence of the electorate.
The EC’s lawyers argued there was no need to provide information on land mass or polling district boundaries. In their opinion, voters have sufficient information to make objections; to the EC, no voter was impeded from making representation through supposed “flawed” and incomplete information provided in the electoral roll.
Clearly, the EC’s minimalistic view over its constitutional requirements is sorely disappointing.
Nonetheless, it remains crystal clear and a straightforward argument that confusion arises from the new polling districts creates confusion when voters are lost in the transition between Batu Lintang and Batu Kawah (over 6000 voters proposed to be moved to Batu Kawah, but the proposed recommendations shows less).
The land mass information or the polling district boundaries are important in ascertaining the actual location of these voters.
Compulsory to the requirement of creating the new 11 additional seats, the delimitation regulation mandates that the Election Commission engages in consultancy process with the registered voters prior to any decisions. As of right now, it is clear that the Election Commission has failed in its duty to provide detailed information to the voters of their new seats or polling districts. This is clear breach of the delimitation regulations.
I am optimistic that the rule of law and the constitution will be upheld in the findings by the Court of Appeal, due in the weeks following Aidilfitri. We strongly urge the Election Commission to withdraw their appeal, and take the necessary steps to reform the the delimitation process.
The Election Commission needs to recognise the fact that our elections is severely flawed as evidenced in the Electoral Integrity Project (EIP) findings, and to stop denying legitimate criticisms against the Election Commission. I urge the Election Commission to do what is right and uphold the Federal Constitution instead of continuing to fulfill the whims and fancy of the ruling government.
NURUL IZZAH ANWAR
LEMBAH PANTAI MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT
KEADILAN VICE PRESIDENT AND ELECTIONS DIRECTOR