The Election Commission (EC) has abdicated its constitutional duty in its latest electoral boundary redrawing exercise by creating malapportioned seats, an electoral reform watchdog claimed today.
Bersih 2.0 chair Maria Chin Abdullah said the election regulator must explain and correct the malapportionment, as it was unfair to voters and against the Federal Constitution.
“EC has to correct this, they have to explain why they doing this. They should call off the whole thing and do a proper redelineation.
“This goes against our Constitution. It is not respecting our constituency and allowed to carry on a violation. This is unacceptable to Bersih,” she told a news conference at the group’s headquarters here.
The electoral watchdog’s steering committee member Wong Chin Huat also indicated that Bersih 2.0 is exploring legal action against the EC over the redelineation exercise.
He alleged that the commission had gone against Clause 2(c) and (d) of the Federal Constitution’s Thirteenth Schedule, which calls for more requal resizing of voters in an area within a state in the delimitation of constituencies.
“The EC has abdicated its constitutional duty to minimise malapportionment in the redelineation process and also commits active violations in the constitution with their exercise. These are the sins of the commission,” he said during the same news conference.
Clause 2(c) of the Thirteenth Schedule states that “the number of electors within each constituency in a State ought to be approximately equal except that, having regard to the greater difficulty of reaching electors in the country districts and the other disadvantages facing rural constituencies, a measure of weightage for area ought to be given to such constituencies” while Clause 2(d) states that “regard ought to be had to the inconveniences attendant on alterations of constituencies, and to the maintenance of local ties.”
He said that the latest move will increase the voter ratio imbalance between a state’s largest seat and its smallest, claiming the gap will be even more lopsided compared to the 2013 general election roll if the EC’s 2016 redelineation exercise is approved.
Wong also claimed Selangor was one of the most affected states where the voter ratio between its largest constituency and its smallest stood at 4.05:1.
“4.05 equals to one. Are you saying that 150,000 voters equals to 37,000 voters?” he asked.
He also asked if the EC is prepared to defend its claim in court.
“How’re they going to convince court that 4.05 equals to 1. This is an insult to our intelligence,” the academic from the Penang Institute said.
Wong also alleged that several seats that required redelineation, especially in Penang, remained untouched by the EC as it was controlled by the federal Opposition pact.
“Penang is untouched by the EC because they know it is a DAP stronghold, EC did nothing about it until today. They know Umno and other parties can’t win there,” he asserted.
The EC in an 18-page notice published last week had proposed to alter the electoral boundaries of several parliamentary and state constituencies in all states bar Perlis, Labuan and Putrajaya.
The proposed amendments could see 12 parliamentary and 34 state constituencies in the peninsula undergo a name change while it also listed 13 proposed new state constituencies for Sabah, increasing the number of the state seats to 73.
But Pakatan Harapan leaders alleged the some of the proposed redelineation exercise would carve out opposition-held federal and state seats to favour Barisan Nasional, especially in Johor and Selangor.
Among the constituencies that would be affected by the proposed changes are Pagoh in Johor and Lembah Pantai. The former is held by sacked Umno leader Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and the latter PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar.
EC secretary Datuk Abdul Ghani Salleh was reported saying the review would be conducted based on the provisions of Clause (2) Article 113 of the Federal Constitution and amendments to Clause (2) Article 14 of the Sabah State Constitution, gazetted on August 18.
But objections to the recommendations could only be made by the state government, local authorities partly or partially included in the redelineation exercise, or a group of no less than 100 registered voters of an affected constituency.