Bersih to challenge ‘illegal’ increase of seats

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KUALA LUMPUR: Electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0 will take the Election Commission (EC) to court if it tables a proposal to increase the number of constituencies without first amending the Federal Constitution.

Bersih 2.0 resource person Dr Wong Chin Huat said court action would be taken if the EC repeats the same unconstitutional process of increasing the number of seats as it did in 2003, which he said was a violation of Article 46, Article 112, and the 13th Schedule of the Constitution.

“We believe the EC [would be acting] unconstitutionally if they decided to push ahead with a seat increase without a prior amendment to Article 46,” he said.

Article 46 stipulates the composition of the Dewan Rakyat or the number of parliamentary constituencies in each state. It would have to be amended if the EC were to increase the number of seats in a redelineation exercise.

“We want to assure the EC that Bersih has prepared our lawyers, we are working hand in hand with the Bar Council, looking for volunteer lawyers, to take the EC to court if it dares to violate the Federal Constitution.

“They are not above the law and the Federal Constitution,” Wong told a Bersih press conference on constituency re-delineation yesterday.

He said an amendment would allow the matter to be debated and the public kept informed so that decisions would “not be made in the back room of the EC’s office”.

He cited the 2003 re-delineation exercise where the EC had drawn a map based on 166 seats for the peninsula and Labuan, when the actual number stipulated in Article 46 at that time was 145 seats for Peninsular Malaysia and Labuan.

Another redelineation exercise is due as the constitution provides for one to be held every eight years.

“When the constitution still had it as 145 seats for the peninsula and Labuan, the EC actually drew a map based on 166 seats, a different number which has no basis in the federal constitution.

“The EC has been taking this unconstitutional approach as if it is the right way to do it,” Wong said. — The Malaysian Insider

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on December 16, 2014.