Parliament should ensure independence of EC
COMMENT The Human Rights Promotion Association (Proham) urges a special sitting of Parliament to discuss constitutional and legislative guidelines to ensure the independence of the Election Commission (EC) especially in undertaking redelineation and conduct of elections.
Proham is shocked with the recent statement by Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman that the “three re-delineation exercises of the electoral borders... were done... had ensured Malays remained in power”.
This statement raises many questions and concerns on the independence, credibility and neutrality of the EC.
The EC is expected to uphold the principles set by the federal constitution in the spirit of the universal principles on democracy and conduct of delineation exercises.
The revelation of the ‘hidden agenda’ is now being made by someone who had been associated with the EC for a long time not just as the EC secretary (1979 to 1999) but also as EC chairperson (2000 to 2008).
He had been the public face of the EC over six general elections and three redelineation exercises.
Political parties, academics and civil society have been raising many issues pertaining to the independence of the Election Commission.
The media coverage of a speech by Abdul Rashid revealing these details further confirms the suspicion of a majority of Malaysian voters.
Proham urges Parliament to have a special sitting on this matter and also to draw up new legislative guidelines on the appointment of Election Commission chairperson and members that will ensure that the federal constitution, democracy and human rights of all citizens are honoured.
The selection committee should be a by-partisan exercise in nominating individuals who ‘enjoy public confidence’ for the Yang di Pertuan Agong’s consideration
This process is of utmost importance as the federal consultation clearly indicates that the members of the Election Commission must “enjoy public confidence” (Article 114-2).
There is a public deficit of trust at present which is further damaged with the new revelations.
Therefore a public and open discussion on these matters is essential to restore public confidence on the individuals and the institution appointed to carry out the duties without fear or favour.
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.
This statement was issued on behalf of Proham by: Simon Sipaun (Proham chairperson), Prof Hamdan Adnan (Proham deputy chairperson) and Dr Denison Jayasooria (Proham secretary-general).