A couple of weeks ago, the Elections Commission (EC) issued the second notice for the re-delineation proposals for the state of Selangor. As a response, non-governmental organisation Bersih 2.0 issued a media statement calling for 100,000 voters in Selangor to object to the said re-delineation proposals.
Re-delineation is a process whereby the EC will review the electoral boundaries of Parliament and State Legislative Assembly constituencies. It will be conducted at least once every 8 years.
The reason why it is conducted is to ensure that electoral boundaries comply with the principles enumerated under the Thirteenth Schedule of the Federal Constitution.
These principles include the administrative facilities available within the constituencies for the establishment of the necessary registration and polling machines and the maintenance of local ties.
The principles also include ensuring that the number of voters within each constituency in a State ought to be approximately equal.
After the review is made and the proposals are drafted, the EC will then issue a notice in the government gazette and local newspapers of their proposals for re-delineation and will display the proposals in the public places for the public to see.
Within one month of publication of the notice, if there are objections from any State Government, local authority or 100 voters in a constituency, then the EC must conduct a local inquiry for the constituencies where there are objections.
In the local inquiry, representations can be made by the objectors as to why the objection is made towards the proposals by the EC.
The EC then takes into account the objection and may issue new proposals. The updated proposal must again be displayed and a notice must be issued. The process for submitting objections and local inquiries will take place again.
Once the inquiries are completed, the EC will then submit a final report to the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister will then table the report and the re-delineation proposals can be passed by Parliament by a simple majority.
At this juncture, for the current re-delineation exercise, the EC has completed two rounds of local inquiries for the states of Malaya, apart from Selangor. The process in Selangor has been delayed after the State government challenged the proposals in Court and this stopped the process temporarily while the case was ongoing.
However, last year the Kuala Lumpur High Court dismissed the judicial review by the Selangor government, following a couple of Court of Appeal decisions which held, amongst others, that the proposals cannot be challenged in Court at this stage.
With the dismissal of the judicial review, the re-delineation process resumed in Selangor. The EC has already had one round of local inquiries. The second notice has been published and the one month to submit objections for this notice is well underway.
EC would want to finalise the whole process before the next General Elections, so that the elections will take place with the new delineated boundaries. As such, the final report on the re-delineation must be completed and submitted to the Prime Minister before the next Parliamentary sitting in March.
The current re-delineation proposals have been widely criticised. Many say that the principles of the Thirteenth Schedule have not been followed.
Over and above these criticisms, what is most important is that the people understand the significance and impact of re-delineation, especially since it concerns our fundamental right to vote. If we are unhappy with the proposals then we should make our views known to the EC.
The writer has been involved with some judicial review proceedings to challenge the current re-delineation proposals