Revamp the EC to improve electoral integrity, says Guan Eng

Lim Guan Eng. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
Lim Guan Eng. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, April 6 ― DAP’s Lim Guan Eng repeated the call today for a total overhaul of the Election Commission (EC) before the redelineation exercise kicks off mid-2014, saying this is essential to ensure the integrity of electoral boundaries.

The DAP secretary-general claimed the current EC has a track record of gerrymandering, noting former EC chief Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman’s public admission last year that the redelineation exercises carried out between 1979 to 2008 were done to ensure the Malays retained political power and that he did so “in a proper way, not illegally”.

Rashid’s admission was never denied although it was violation of electoral laws, said Lim.

“Only Malaysians shall determine whether it (BN) is fit enough to rule,” said the Bagan MP, noting that it is only possible if gerrymandering is avoided during the boundary redrawing exercise.

“If Malaysia is to improve on electoral integrity, public confidence must be restored by either the replacement of the entire EC with independent and neutral members, comprising of civil society, respected jurists and academics, that is acceptable to the opposition,” he said.

However, if Putrajaya is not keen on replacing the current panel of commissioners, Lim proposed that the federal government adopts Bersih 2.0’s People’s Tribunal’s recommendations.

Among others, the panel had suggested the formation of an external commission of reputed personalities to deal with the redrawing of electoral boundaries.

The tribunal found the current first-past-the-post electoral system practiced by Malaysia relied heavily on the fairness of delineated electoral boundaries, and apart from the revamp of the EC also proposed amendments to laws defining the criteria on the size of urban and rural constituencies, crucial to the delimitation process.

Citing the Electoral Integrity Project (EIP), Lim said Election 2013 was perceived to be flawed “due to low levels of integrity, due to problematic electoral boundaries and election laws”.

“The Putrajaya federal constituency won by BN has just 15,791 eligible voters, compared to the Kapar constituency won by Pakatan Rakyat (PR) with 144,159 eligible voters.

“The EIP also noted that the opposition pact bagged just 89 federal seats, or 40 per cent, of the 222-seat Dewan Rakyat, despite winning 50.87 per cent of the popular vote,” said Lim, quoting the study by University of Sydney and Harvard University.

The EIP also found Malaysia’s electoral demarcations to be the worst of 66 countries in terms of fairness and integrity of its electoral boundaries. The study was a deliberation on 73 general elections worldwide.