KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 19 — The Selangor government today asked the courts to quash the Election Commission’s (EC) allegedly “unconstitutional” redelineation exercise and to temporarily freeze any EC inquiry hearings on the exercise.
In challenging the EC’s proposed redelineation exercise, the Selangor government urged the High Court to declare the voting regulator’s bid to redraw the boundaries of electoral constituencies in Peninsular Malaysia as “invalid”.
“Given all the evidence, facts and circumstances of the case, the Election Commission has issued the Notice and the Proposed Recommendations unconstitutionally, unreasonably, irrationally and unfairly,” lawyers for the Selangor government wrote in court documents.
It added that any other Election Commissions in the same circumstances would not have made the same redelineation proposal.
“As such, the delimitation of constituencies in the States of Malaya as reviewed by the Election Commission in 2016 is unconstitutional and the Election Commission ought to be directed to issue a fresh notice and fresh proposed recommendations that comply with the Federal Constitution,” it added.
On September 15, in an 18-page notice in national daily New Straits Times, the EC announced a name change for 12 parliamentary seats and 34 state seats nationwide without adding or subtracting any constituencies, and also proposed the redrawing of boundaries of 18 parliamentary constituencies in Selangor. The renaming affects five federal seats and six state seats in Selangor.
This notice of the EC’s proposed recommendations for its redelineation exercise is required by the Federal Constitution, which also requires the EC to hold local enquiries on any views that were presented to it within one month of the notice. The EC had on Monday said it had received 836 objections to its proposed redelineation exercise for Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah.
But the Selangor government today asked the courts to order a stay of any local enquiry by the EC until the end of its lawsuit against the redelineation exercise.
The Selangor government also asked for a total of six declarations from the courts, including a declaration that the EC had breached constitutional provisions under Clauses 2(c) and 2(d) of the Thirteenth Schedule — which pushes for approximately equal number of voters in constituencies, as well as consideration of maintenance of local ties and inconveniences caused to voters when voting boundaries are altered.
It also applied for the courts to declare that the EC’s failure to use the latest electoral roll of Peninsular Malaysia in the redelineation exercise was unconstitutional and had made the entire proposal defective and invalid, and that the latter’s reliance on an incomplete and inaccurate electoral roll for Selangor had also invalidated the redelineation exercise.
It also said the courts should declare that the EC’s failure to give detailed information for its planned redelineation exercise had caused voters, local authorities and state governments to be unable to meaningfully exercise their constitutional right to object to the proposal.
The judicial review application was filed by the Selangor state government against the EC, the EC chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Hashim Abdullah and EC secretary Datuk Abdul Ghani Salleh.
In a 58-page court document filed in support of the Selangor state government’s lawsuit, Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Azmin Ali had highlighted various failures on the part of the EC, claiming that the voting regulator had engaged in gerrymandering and malapportionment.
Among other things, Azmin also said the EC had acted unlawfully by using the electoral roll with 11,379,352 registered voters that he said was for the year 2015 and by failing to instead use the latest electoral roll for 2016’s first quarter that was already available in July.
Citing a study by NGO Engage, Azmin also highlighted that the EC’s electoral roll for Selangor as of the first quarter this year included the names of 136,272 voters, but did not list their corresponding addresses.
He noted that these registered voters without listed addresses in the EC’s electoral roll accounted for 38.93 per cent and 29.71 per cent of the Selangor state seats of Sungai Air Tawar and Permatang held by Barisan Nasional, and 26.04 per cent of the PAS-held state seat of Sabak.
Since the composition of streets or locality of polling districts would be altered in the EC’s redrawing of voting boundaries, Azmin said the EC would not have had the correct information when proposing its latest redelineation exercise.
“I am further advised that since voters without any addresses are by implication without a street address, the Election Commission could not have had the correct data when assigning voters to, or maintaining them in polling districts,” he said.