Electoral reform coalition Bersih today expressed its disappointment with the Election Commission's successful appeal today against a stay order that prevented them from conducting local inquiries into objections to their redelineation exercise.
In a statement, Bersih chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah said the appeal shows that the EC is not interested in pursuing clean and fair elections, but rather judicial avenues to implement unfair delineation boundaries on behalf of the ruling government.
Maria stressed that both the EC and the courts are meant to be avenues of justice, and a recourse to address wrongs in the electoral process.
“The rights of the voter is the basis for any democracy. Without a voter, there is no basis for a government.
“The constitution empowers the people to choose their own government.
“As such, it is the role of the EC and all government bodies to respect, uphold and protect the interest and rights of the voter,” she added.
Maria also pointed out that the speed with which the EC is aiming to hold the local inquiries flies in the face of the seriousness of the issues being objected to, especially given that the Selangor government is appealing the dismissal of their challenge against the recent redelineation exercise.
Moreover, she noted that the EC has ample time to complete its redelineation exercise – before Sept 14, 2018 – but instead chose to propel the case forward despite significant objections from the public, on the grounds of missing addresses, malapportionment, and gerrymandering.
“To proceed in holding local enquiries without establishing nor resolving the concerns addressed in the objections in the courts will result in ineffectiveness by way of implementation, waste of government resources, and failure to take into account electoral best practices and respect for the right of voters,” Maria warned.
With the court decision today, the EC can now conduct its inquiries into voter objections, of which there are 111 in Selangor – the only state in which these inquiries have not been completed.
The EC can only submit its report on the new electoral boundaries to the prime minister once the Selangor inquiries have been concluded.
Maria also asked those who objected to the EC’s new boundaries to be on standby, with the EC likely to hold its inquiries as soon as possible.
“Despite the impracticality of holding local enquiries at a time when most Malaysians will be on holiday or celebrating the New Year, local enquiries are expected to take place anytime, possibly as early as next week.
“Bersih calls on those who filed objections against unfair delineation in Selangor in Sept 2016 to be on standby and expect to receive a notice from the EC soon,” she said.