Electoral changes to be a hot topic

Keen interest: Members of the public waiting to attend the Election Commission’s public hearing for the redelineation proposal at Concorde Hotel in Shah Alam.

Keen interest: Members of the public waiting to attend the Election Commission’s public hearing for the redelineation proposal at Concorde Hotel in Shah Alam.

PETALING JAYA: All eyes will be on next week’s Dewan Rakyat meeting following the completion of the Election Commission’s (EC) local inquiry on the proposed redelineation of electoral boundaries in Selangor.

The local inquiry ends today and is the last step before the EC presents a final report on its nationwide redelineation proposal to the Prime Minister, who can then opt to table it in the Dewan for approval.

The House meets from Monday to April 5 and with the redelineation process nearing completion, a rough calculation shows that it is possible for the EC proposal to be tabled in Parliament from March 26 onwards.

The five-year term of the Barisan Nasional Federal Government ends on June 24 and there is talk that Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak plans to seek a dissolution of Parliament soon after a redelineation is in place.

“When the inquiry is over, we will come up with our final report to the Prime Minister,” said an EC official.

The official, however, could not confirm whether there was a possibility that the hearing could stretch for longer beyond today.

Observers said the EC proposal could be tabled in the last two weeks of the coming Parliament meeting.

According to Dewan Rakyat secretary Datuk Roosme Hamzah, the first two weeks of the legislative body’s meeting has been set aside to debate the royal address which the Yang di-Pertuan Agong will deliver when opening the session on Monday.

The third week will be for ministries to wrap up the debates on the royal address.

“The fourth and fifth weeks are for debates on Bills and other government matters,” Roosme said in a statement.

Dewan Rakyat deputy speaker Datuk Ronald Kiandee said it is unlikely for Parliament to suddenly cut short its debates and ministerial wrap-ups on the royal address to make way for any other matter.

“All this while, we have followed what has been scheduled,” said Kiandee when contacted.

If approved by the Dewan Rakyat, the new boundaries will be presented to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for royal assent before they are gazetted.

EC chairman Tan Sri Mohd Hashim Abdullah said last month that the new boundaries could be gazetted in just a few days after obtaining royal assent.

However, the Prime Minister does have other options.

Najib could opt not to table the proposal if the Government prefers the current boundaries.

In addition, the proposal can even be tabled after the upcoming Parliament meeting via a special sitting.

The EC was supposed to do the redelineation in 2011 but it was postponed to make way for the general election in 2013.

Article 1139(2)(ii) of the Federal Constitution states that a redelineation exercise can only be done eight years after the last process, which was in 2003.

In 2003, the EC submitted its final report on redelineation to then Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on March 10. Abdullah later tabled the proposal to the Dewan Rakyat on April 3.

The proposal, which involved the creation of 25 new parliamentary seats, was passed four days later (April 7, 2003).

Government , GE14