After Malay-power disclosure, critics want checks on polls redelineation exercise
A human rights group and an opposition lawmaker have asked for a special Parliament sitting to ensure the Election Commission (EC) remained independent and neutral following a recent statement made by its former chairman that has cast doubts on whether electoral boundary redelineation exercises were conducted fairly.
The Association for the Promotion of Human Rights Malaysia (Proham) wants a bipartisan special committee put in place to nominate EC members to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong while Serdang MP Dr Ong Kian Ming has called for a parliamentary select committee to carry out the redelineation exercise to prevent gerrymandering.
Proham said the recent statement by former EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman that three redelineation exercises were done to ensure Malays remained in power, had raised questions over the EC's credibility.
Proham wants a special Parliament meeting to be held including for the purpose of drawing up new legislative guidelines on the appointment of the EC chairman and its members.
"A by-partisan committee should be created to nominate individuals who ‘enjoy public confidence’ for the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s consideration," said the statement by Proham chairman Tan Sri Simon Sipaun, deputy chairman Prof Datuk Hamdan Adnan and secretary-general Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria.
It further pointed out that the Constitution clearly states that members of the EC must enjoy this public confidence, adding that currently there was a public deficit of trust, further damaged by the new revelations.
The statement said that the EC was supposed to uphold the principles in the Federal Constitution in the spirit of democracy when undertaking the redelineation exercise.
"This revelation of a 'hidden agenda' is now being made by someone who has been associated with the EC for a long time, as secretary from 1979 to 1999 and as its chairman for eight years from 2000.
"He has been the face of the EC for six general elections and three redelineation exercises," Proham said in the statement.
It further noted that political parties, academics and the civil society had been raising many concerns over EC's independence, adding that Abdul Rashid's statements, which were reported in the media, confirms the suspicion of the majority of Malaysian voters.
According to Proham, this warranted a public and open discussion in order to restore public confidence in the EC.
"This is no simple matter as the EC is currently undertaking a redelineation exercise and therefore this matter is of great public urgency.
"Parliament must ensure that there is a public discussion on this matter and that this process must be transparent and open to public participation," the statement said.
Recently, Abdul Rashid who joined Malay-rights group Perkasa, had said that the three redelineation exercises on electoral borders, which were done during his time with the EC, had ensured Malays remained in power.
"We did it in a proper way. Not illegally. The people who lost in the past general elections claimed that we did it wrong. But if we did, how did Barisan Nasional lose to the opposition in Kelantan, Penang and Selangor?" he had said.
He had also said that his experience could help the majority race keep power.
Ong wants a parliamentary select committee to be established on the soon-to-be-carried-out redelineation exercise to prevent gerrymandering.
A select committee is made up of members from the government and opposition and its recommendations are generally accepted by the government.
He said based on what Abdul Rashid had said, the latter was clearly taking instructions from the Barisan Nasional during the 2003 redelineation exercise.
“The exercise was done in order to increase the political dominance of BN/UMNO and not to increase Malay political dominance,” he said.
Ong said if Abdul Rashid wanted to maintain Malay political dominance, why was it that no Parliament seats were added to the Malay majority states of Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu in the 2003 delineation exercise?
He said seats were not added in these states despite the fact that the number of voters in some seats was already quite high, like Tumpat with 69,948 voters, Kuala Terengganu with 65,900 voters, Kuala Kedah with 73,942 voters and Baling with 72,387 voters.
“The reason for the non-addition of Parliament seats in these three states is simple. PAS had performed tremendously well in the 1999 general election in all three states, winning eight out of 15 Parliament seats in Kedah, 13 out of 14 seats in Kelantan and all eight seats in Terengganu. The BN was fearful that if more seats were added in these states, it would benefit the opposition, specifically PAS. If Tan Sri Abdul Rashid really wanted to increase Malay political dominance, he would have added more Parliament seats in Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu in 2003 but he did not do so in order to protect BN/UMNO’s political interest,” he said in a statement today.
Ong said he was part of an IKMAS (Institute Kajian Malaysia dan Antarabangsa) study team from UKM which looked at the redelineation process during that period.
“I remember distinctly Tan Sri Abdul Rashid telling the members of the study team that he had received instructions from the then Prime Minister (Tun Dr) Mahathir (Mohamad) not to add any seats in the three northern states and also to create more ethnically ‘mixed’ seats,” he said. -
November 28, 2013.