New EC Members Include Law Prof Azmi Sharom as Deputy Chief

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Universiti Malaya Law lecturer Assoc Prof Dr Azmi Sharom has been appointed deputy chairman of the Election Commission (EC) of Malaysia.

The prominent and outspoken academic was once arrested and charged for making allegedly seditious remarks in 2014. Prosecutors dropped the case in 2016.

Azmi will assist Azhar Harun, who was appointed to head the EC in September last year as part of a major shake-up of the election authority.

Other members appointed to the commission are former Foreign Ministry Secretary-General Datuk Seri Ramlan Ibrahim, former Labour Department director-general Datuk Chin Phaik Yoong, senior fellow at the Institute of International and Malaysia studies at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Associate Prof Dr Faisal S Hazis, and resource officer of the Coalition for Free and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) Zoe Randhawa.

These appointments have broken several conventions.

  • Commission members are usually chosen from amongst retired senior civil servants.
  • One seat is conventionally reserved for a former top-ranking police officer. The current line-up has none.
  • The current crop of commissioners will also likely be the youngest, on average, in Malaysian history.

In a statement on Thursday (Feb 14), Chief Secretary to the Government Datuk Seri Dr Ismail Bakar said their appointments will come into effect from the day they report as a Commission member until they reach the age of 66, in accordance with Article 114 (3) of the Federal Constitution.