KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 5 ― A DAP lawmaker has suggested that the vacancies in the Election Commission (EC) be filled via the Parliament Select Committee on Major Public Appointments (MPA) as part of the country’s electoral reform.
Kota Melaka MP Khoo Poay Tiong said that though the Federal Constitution currently provides for the appointment of EC members by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong with advice from the prime minister and Cabinet, it was not a very robust or transparent process.
“In fact, Barisan Nasional (BN) had previously abused it to their favour. The former EC chairperson, for example, was the former private secretary of Tan Sri Annuar Musa, a longstanding member of Umno’s supreme council,” he said in a statement.
“Legally, the Prime Minister and Cabinet will still have the final say, but there is no reason to keep the process leading up to that decision behind closed-doors. The appointment of the new EC members must be based on a more thorough and democratic process.”
He said the MPA select committee should jointly announce the vacancy of the EC and make an open call for nominations whereby any individual or organisation should be allowed to nominate potential candidates.
Khoo said the select committee could develop guidelines, such as outlining the qualification criteria of nominees or require each nomination to be supported by a certain number of citizens via a petition.
Thereafter, he said the select committee would shortlist the nominations and hold public hearings for the nominees to make statements and reply to questions.
Members of public, he said, must also be allowed to make formal representations either to support or object the nominations based on valid reasons before the select committee recommends a final list of nominees and states publicly the basis of their recommendation.
Khoo said the nomination should then be tabled in the Dewan Rakyat and after it is passed, the prime minister can present it to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for official appointment.
“Such a robust process will ensure that we will have a strong EC with the necessary expertise and independence. The EC will also enjoy greater public confidence because their appointment is subjected to greater public involvement and scrutiny.
“In the long-run, the government should institutionalise these processes into law so that it will become a permanent feature of our democratic system, which will ensure that the EC will never be manipulated again,” said Khoo.
EC chairman Azhar Azizan Harun had announced on October 18, last year, that the commission’s deputy chairman Tan Sri Othman Mahmood, and commissioners Datuk Md Yusop Mansur, Datuk Abdul Aziz Khalidin, Datuk Sulaiman Narawi, and Datuk Leo Chong Cheong will vacate their posts on January 1 ahead of the expiry of their tenure.
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