The ultimate power of electoral redelineation, including the final say, should rest with the Election Commission (EC), argued its deputy chairman Azmi Sharom.
He said the commission originally had such power under the Federal Constitution when Malaya achieved independence in 1957, but amendments made in the early 1960s did away with that.
“In the original Constitution, the EC drew up the electoral boundaries and everyone else could only accept it for what it is. By right, Parliament should not be involved (in the process),” Azmi said during a webinar hosted by electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0 on electoral reform in the country.
He was asked for his opinion on whether it is preferable for the EC’s recommendations to remain unreviewable by the courts, and whether the power of review should rest with Parliament.
“I would not say the courts cannot review what the commission has done, that is fine. I think judicial review is a good idea, speaking as a law teacher.
“But again, it should not be Parliament who has the power but the EC with regards to electoral boundaries. In fact, Parliament should not have any say at all,” Azmi said.
The deputy chairman said any decisions on electoral redelineation made by Parliament will inevitably be influenced by political reasons, and not reasons based on or for the sake of democracy.
His stance was supported by fellow panellist and political analyst Wong Chin Huat, who said Azmi’s argument is well-supported by comparative research.
“In the United States, constituency delineation is done by the respective states, and every state has different functions.
“In the states where the delineation process is controlled by the legislature, things tend to go badly, while states which appoint independent committee panels to do so tend to have better outcomes,” he said.
Under the present Constitution, the commission can only make recommendations on what should be done during an electoral redelineation exercise, but the Dewan Rakyat has the power to either accept or reject them. – MMO