Select committee agrees EC chair's appointment should be open process

KUALA LUMPUR: The Dewan Rakyat Special Select Committee (PSSC) on Human Rights, Elections, and Institutional Reforms has agreed that the process of appointing the new chairman of the Election Commission (EC) should be conducted openly and in consultation with Parliament.

In a statement Friday (May 17), its chairman William Leong Jee Keen, who is also Selayang MP, said the PSSC stands ready to convene a meeting to review the candidates to be considered for the position of EC chair.

He said the PSSC will then submit recommendations to the government and the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to aid His Majesty and the Conference of Rulers in exercising their discretion under Article 114 of the Federal Constitution.

"Taking the step to engage Parliament (through the PSSC) in the process of appointing the next EC chair is a gesture of goodwill to our civil society partners and a recognition of their concerns, while also demonstrating that this unity government is committed to deliver real, immediate, impactful reforms, alongside long-term structural reforms,” it said.

This follows calls for a transparent and consultative process in the appointment of the next EC chairman, urging for the prior vetting of candidate (s) by a parliamentary committee.

Bersih, alongside 80 other non-governmental organisations, think tanks, and notable individuals, made this call in a joint open letter on May 9.

Leong said the vacancy of the role of EC chair comes at a critical juncture. As noted in Bersih’s open letter on May 9,”the EC plays the critical role of regulating the conduct of elections, reviewing and revising the electoral roll, and delineating/redrawing constituencies.”

He added that the EC’s role will be particularly important in the coming months and years, as they oversee the delimitation of constituencies under Article 113(2) and Schedule 13 of the Federal Constitution, which could impact the electoral process for the next decade or more.

"A transparent and consultative appointment process of chairmen of public bodies like the EC is vital for a healthy, stable democracy and to instill public confidence in our institutions.

"Institutions that are pivotal to our democracy must function - and must be seen to function - independently and free from political influence,” it said.

Leong noted that the Madani government under Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has proven its commitment to institutional reforms through ongoing efforts, including setting up an independent parliamentary service, creating the office of ombudsman, enacting freedom of information laws, reviewing the role of the attorney-general, and improving the electoral process.

He stated that the special select committee continues to work closely with the government on these and other measures to strengthen the transparency, independence, and accountability of our institutions and public officers.

However, he added that many of these reforms involve structural and legal changes and therefore require time to fully study and implement. - Bernama

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