10,000 Selangor voters fail court challenge against EC redelineation report

BY YISWAREE PALANSAMY
Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan speaks to members of the press at the Shah Alam High Court on April 20, 2018.― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

SHAH ALAM, April 20 ― The High Court today dismissed a leave application for judicial review by over 10,000 Selangor voters to challenge the Election Commission’s (EC) redelineation report that will be used in the May 9 polls.

In her judgment, Justice Datuk Azimah Omar held that the 107 applicants representing the 10,000 voters were not affected by EC’s redrawing of electoral boundaries, and as such, don’t have locus standi to mount the challenge.

“The court finds that since the representation was made by improper persons, there is no necessity for the EC to hold local enquiries and act on the representation.

“The 107 applicants are simply not in the constituencies in question,” she said.

The judge pointed out that the applicants must prove that they were adversely affected by the EC’s decision.

“There are no reasons whatsoever which warrants this court to interfere with the Parliament’s conducts or the Parliament’s privilege,” she added.

Azimah added that the bid by the 107 groups was already academic, since the final redelineation report was already passed in Parliament, and gazetted.

The lawsuit was filed on March 20 at the High Court here by former Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah who is among the 107 voters.

Other applicants in the lawsuit were Selangor lawmakers such as Hannah Yeoh, Xavier Jayakumar, Tony Pua, Lau Weng San, Rajiv Rishyakaran, Haniza Mohamed Talha and Gan Pei Nei.

The voters are from 11 parliamentary seats and 16 state seats in Selangor.

The judicial review application named the EC, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, and Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Aman Mulia as respondents.

The 107 groups are seeking for four court orders, including a declaration that the EC’s failure to hold local enquiries for the 107 objections to its redelineation exercise was “unconstitutional”, and an order to compel the EC to hold local enquiries for the group.

They also want the courts to declare that the final redelineation report submitted by the EC to the prime minister on March 9 is unconstitutional and to quash this report.

Additionally, they want the courts to issue a stay order to freeze the tabling, debate, discussion or voting on the EC’s redelineation report in the Dewan Rakyat until the end of this lawsuit.

The redelineation report was, however, tabled in Dewan Rakyat on March 28, and approved with a simple majority.

Speaking to reporters outside, Datuk S. Ambiga, who represented the 107 groups, said that her team would now look into the possibility of challenging the High Court decision today, as although Azimah ruled that the areas concerned were not affected by the redelineation, the EC did take into account some concerns of those residing in the areas.

Ambiga said that this scenario was especially true for the Petaling Jaya Utara (PJU) parliamentary seat.

“The court has held that they cannot ask for local enquiries because there’s no change to their constituency, but the EC has taken into account the views of other voters in PJU,” she said.

“Therefore, we are looking into the possibility of challenging the report on the basis that they should not have taken into account those views.”

Ambiga said that the EC had initially proposed the redrawing of new boundaries in its first plan, only to revert to the 2013 boundaries later.

“However, in the final report, the EC had reinstated the ‘Syor 1’ (Recommendation Number one) with the many proposed changes. So you see what they have done?” she added.

Ambiga said that as a result of today’s ruling, no voters from PJU would be able to challenge the redelineation report, as the court has ruled that none from the area are affected by the redelineation exercise.

She added that the 107 groups are mainly from PJU.