Bersih urges voters to challenge EC’s second redelineation attempt

By Syed Jaymal Zahiid
The Election Commission has been accused of rushing through its bid to redraw voting boundaries and move voters to match a possible early GE14 date. — Bernama pic

PETALING JAYA, March 31 ― Polls reform group Bersih 2.0 today urged voters to challenge the Election Commission's (EC) second redelineation proposal, which it purported to be malapportioned despite strong objections against the first proposal.

The group said public action was more urgent now as the EC had allegedly overstepped its constitutional duty by continuing to distribute the seats unevenly in the second exercise despite protest from voters.

“Bersih 2.0 urge all affected voters to submit the Objection Letter with 100 more signatures of voters from their constituency to their state EC office before the 7th of April, 2017,” the group said in a statement.

It also said the EC had violated the country's supreme law by omitting Selangor from the second redemarcation process.

“Not participating in the objection in this second display would not only mean that EC is given a ‘walkover’ but it would also mean that we accept the malapportionment, gerrymandering and the utter disregard for the Federal Constitution,” it added.

Bersih and its Delineation Action and Research Team (Dart) claimed the second electoral redrawing display issued on March 8 continued to have excessively under or over-represented constituencies.

It said more than 23 parliamentary and 56 state assembly seats were still under-represented while 21 parliamentary and 51 state assembly seats had excess representation.

Bersih 2.0 southern vice-chair Thomas Fann said his home state of Johor has the most malapportioned constituencies in the second proposal with up to eight seats found to be oversized and six under-represented.

“We will have to take legal action to challenge,” Fan told reporters here, adding that voters cannot let the unfair process be legitimised.

The first redelineation proposal itself was already controversial, prompting Bersih to push for a voter signature drive campaign to register their protest.

Election laws allow affected voters to object any redelineation exercise deemed unfair if more than 100 signatures are collected for the process.

The group's co-chairperson Maria Chin said despite having met the requirements, the EC have in many instances refused to hold local inquiries to address the concern.

“Only after they came with lawyers and a they relented. Even so they only held inquiries for them,” she told reporters here.

Bersih had previously attempted to challenge the first redemarcation exercise but the Kuala Lumpur High Court rejected the application.

It then filed for an appeal but withdrew later for fear that losing the case could set an adverse precedent for other pending and future lawsuits against the redelineation exercise.

But today Chin said the group will have to proceed to initiate a new legal suit against the EC should the body refuse to heed voter protest against its second redemarcation proposal.

“I don't think we have much choice..we will have to take legal action,” she said.

Legal experts had previously warned that the EC may be compelled to repeat its proposed redelineation for peninsular Malaysia if it insists on proceeding without Selangor that is challenging the exercise.

They noted that Selangor’s legal suit against the proposed redelineation was currently ongoing and that the courts may decide that the EC must start the entire exercise anew, putting into jeopardy the time and resources already spent.

But Bersih said today voters should proceed to put pressure on the poll authority despite the ongoing legal battle between the two to ensure all due process are met before the redelineation exercise are implemented.