EC denies gerrymandering in ‘mini’ delineation

By G. Manimaran (Malaysian Insider)
PUTRAJAYA, 23 Sept — The Election Commission (EC) today denied any political agenda in its “mini-delineation”, which has resulted in voters being relocated from their constituencies.
The commission’s Registration and Electoral Roll Preparation panel chairman Datuk Zainal Abidin Mat said assumptions that the move was to help certain political parties while weakening others was not true.
Instead, he said the delineation was a common practice and carried out at the behest of political parties.
“In the past, they themselves (political parties) have informed us that certain localities were in the wrong constituencies,
“So when we received complaints and information, we took action to correct the locality… so it’s nothing new and has long been carried out,” he said.
Zainal also labelled the accusations against the commission by political parties as unfair.
Earlier today The Malaysian Insider reported that the EC had been moving voters’ localities since 2004, two years after the last delineation exercise.
The move was described as unconstitutional by election watchdog Bersih 2.0 chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan.
The former Bar Council president said that even if the EC had detected mistakes in electoral boundaries, it should not prematurely amend the existing borders of the 222 parliamentary seats in the country.
“Correction cannot be done until the next delineation exercise which is expected to be conducted after March 2011,” she said to The Malaysian Insider.
The legality of the relocations has also been questioned in blogs, on the Twitter microblogging service and by the opposition.
During the Hulu Selangor by-election campaign in April, PKR election director Fuziah Salleh claimed that the EC had relocated 228 voters from Kampung Tanjung in the Batang Kali state constituency to the neighbouring federal constituency of Selayang.
Fuziah claimed that the transfers were illegal.
The EC, however, maintained that it has been conducting the exercise using the electronic geographical information system (EGIS) since 2004, in line with Subsection 7(2) and 7(4) of the Elections Act 1958 and Subsection 25(3) of the Election (Registration of Electors) Regulations 2002.
Zainal pointed out that the process involved constituencies held by both Pakatan Rakyat and Barisan Nasional.
He also highlighted that the correction of localities had been carried out even before the last delineation exercise in 2002.
“Before 2004, it was done manually but since then we have used the (EGIS) system to determine the accurate position of each constituency ,” he said.
The EC, he said, had taken steps to inform all affected parties officially about the changes.
However, he acknowledged there were problems with notifications in the past when voters could not be located.
According to Zainal, the process was an ongoing one and the EC could not say for sure how many constituencies would be affected.
“We are not sure but the process is almost complete,” he said.