Despite poor international rating, Putrajaya says EC performance up to scratch

Shahidan claimed that the Electoral Integrity Project survey was flawed as it excluded consultation from EC members. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
Shahidan claimed that the Electoral Integrity Project survey was flawed as it excluded consultation from EC members. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, June 11 — The Najib administration insisted today that the Election Commission's (EC) performance have been commendable and satisfactory, despite the poor score it received in back-to-back surveys carried out by the US-based Electoral Integrity Project (EIP).

Minister in the Prime Minister Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim said the government acknowledged that Malaysia was ranked 114 from 127 countries considered the least fair in its elections, but claimed the survey was flawed as it excluded consultation from EC members.

"This report was produced based on the views of experts from each country (surveyed) but no one from the EC was informed about who these experts were (when it comes to Malaysia)," Shahidan said in a written reply to PKR Bayan Baru MP Sim Tze Tzin.

"International groups are free to conduct their assessment and give their perception about the EC… but basically the government is satisfied with the EC's performance".

Speaking to reporters outside the Dewan Rakyat, Sim called the reply “shiok sendiri”, a colloquial term meaning self-congratulatory.

“It’s [a] shiok sendiri kind of answer. They still would not admit that they failed to meet the standards”.

The Bayan Baru MP had in the past pointed out that the EIP had highlighted complaints about gerrymandering of the country's electoral borders as among the key issues plaguing Malaysia's election system.

In that category, Malaysia scored a lowly 28 points out of 100.

Sim said a parliamentary select committee (PSC) on electoral reforms too had previously recommended the EC revise the way it drew up constitutional boundaries.

In Election 2013, Barisan Nasional (BN) retained federal power by snapping up 133 seats against Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) 89 seats despite losing the popular vote.

Of the total number of votes cast, the ruling pact only scored 49 per cent to PR’s 51 per cent.

According to findings by Bersih 2.0’s People’s Tribunal, a vote for BN was given 1.6 times the weightage given to a vote for PR.

The polls watchdog had set up the panel to investigate alleged irregularities in the last elections.

The panel had proposed to minimise this disparity by amending laws on the criteria that determine the size of urban and rural constituencies.

But EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusuf said the “one man one vote” concept recommended by the PSC in 2012 is not practical.

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