MEDIA STATEMENT (30 NOV 2014)
The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH 2.0) welcomes the recent statement by Pakatan Rakyat’s Committee on the Delineation Exercise, which stressed they do not have an agreement with the Election Commission (EC) on increasing the number of parliamentary seats for the upcoming delineation exercise.
We further support their call for an Independent Boundaries Commission to be formed, similar to those in the United Kingdom. As stated by the People’s Tribunal Report on the 13th General Elections, the EC’s role should focus on the conduct of elections, while a separate, independent and expert body should be tasked with mapping the electoral boundaries.
However, BERSIH 2.0 is deeply concerned by two assertions in the statement by Pakatan Rakyat.
1. Pakatan Rakyat will wait for the EC’s public recommendations before deciding on seat increase.
We would like to call attention to Article 46, which states:
46. (1) The House of Representatives shall consist of two hundred and twenty-two elected members.
Currently, the EC only has the power to propose delineation of the existing 222 seats. Any proposal that increases the number of seats in Parliament would circumvent the Federal Constitution. If seats are to be increased, a constitutional amendment is required before the EC can publish its recommendations.
BERSIH 2.0 stresses the many efforts by civil society and the public to participate in this process according to the clear instructions set out in our Constitution. Likewise, we demand that the EC and all political parties follow the Constitution in every stage of delineation.
2. Pakatan Rakyat calls on the EC to ‘work with all political parties’, not just UMNO.
Delineation determines the people’s true voting power in electing their representatives. As shown in GE13, unfair delineation can manipulate the rakyat’s votes against the public interest. To prevent this, the EC should consult with the public in open forums, where all citizens can put forward recommendations. Closed-door meetings between the EC and political parties give the perception the delineation exercise is being designed around the wishes of politicians instead of the interests of the rakyat.
The Steering Committee of BERSIH 2.0, which comprises –
Chairperson: Maria Chin Abdullah; Treasurer: Masjaliza Hamzah; national representatives: Prof Madya Dr Abdul Halim bin Yusoff, Farhana binti Abdul Halim, Fadiah Nadwa Fikri and New Sin Yew; vice-chairpersons: Jannie Lasimbang (Sabah), Ahmad b. Awang Ali (Sarawak), Abd Halim b. Wan Ismail (East Peninsula), Thomas Fann (South Peninsula), Simon Lee Ying Wai (Central Peninsula) and Dato’ Dr Toh Kin Woon (North Peninsula).