Bersih: Court ruling on Sarawak redelineation setback to democracy

Maria Chin Abdullah (centre), who heads the electoral watchdog, said the EC was looking to increase the number of state seats in Sarawak from 71 to 82 without proper explanation. ― File pic
Maria Chin Abdullah (centre), who heads the electoral watchdog, said the EC was looking to increase the number of state seats in Sarawak from 71 to 82 without proper explanation. ― File pic

PUTRAJAYA, Aug 7 ― The Court of Appeal’s decision today that upheld the Election Commission’s (EC) proposed redelineation of electoral boundaries in Sarawak, overturning a lower court’s ruling, has paved the way for gerrymandering, Bersih has claimed. 

Maria Chin Abdullah, who heads the electoral watchdog, said the EC was looking to increase the number of state seats in Sarawak from 71 to 82 without proper explanation.

“Bersih 2.0 is disappointed by the COA decision which is a great setback in the Malaysians' effort to correct electoral manipulation especially gerrymandering and malapportionment of constituencies,” Chin told reporters at the courthouse after the ruling, referring to the Court of Appeal.

“The COA decision has virtually given the green light to the EC to carry out more outrageous acts of  gerrymandering and malapportionment as it did in the past,” she added.

In a unanimous decision today, the three-man Court of Appeal bench of judges ruled that the notice given by the EC to redraw Sarawak’s electoral boundaries did not breach constitutional rights and was in line with the 13th Schedule of the Federal Constitution, overturning the Kuching High Court verdict that nullified the redelineation exercise.

Chin said voters’ ability to scrutinise and to object to the EC's recommendations have been “severely undermined”, making the whole process a “mere formality without real check and balance”.

She also said the decision today might make the outcome of the next election a foregone conclusion, amid claims of gerrymandering.

Bersih is also looking to file an appeal with the Federal Court over today's decision, Chin said, as she urged Malaysians to join the Bersih rally on August 29 to show their outrage. 

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