Friday, September 12, 2014

EC urged to initiate consultation with political parties

by Jonathan Chia, Posted on September 12, 2014, Friday

KUCHING: The Election Commission (EC) is urged to initiate consultations with political parties and civil societies to ensure that the electoral boundary re-delineation process is conducted more transparently.
See (right) speaks at the press conference. With him are his personal assistant Wong Yie Sing (left) and PKR national women vice president Voon Shiak Ni.

Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How, in making the call, said consultations were inevitable as the matter had created many controversies while many people were doubting whether what the EC was doing would only benefit certain parties.

“Consultation is inevitable because the process in which the EC is carrying out the work (re-delineation) is very much a ‘black box’ operation. There is lack of transparency so I want to urge the EC to probably start some process of consultations.

“The EC can start the consultations probably with political parties and also the civil societies such as concerned groups such as Bersih to ensure the whole process is done transparently,” he told a press conference here yesterday.

See, who is also state PKR vice chairman, said that consultations and establishment of a by-partisan parliamentary select committee to oversee the re-delineation process was not something unprecedented, as it was practised everywhere in the world.

“In the UK, their process is even better because there is Boundary Commission of England, with membership of people from different parties and civil societies who would recommend to their EC how the delineation exercise should be carried out.

“I think that is a better process because that way, you can have different groups studying on different aspects on how we can re-delineate constituencies.”

See said there were also concerns that if the re-delineation exercise were left to the EC, they would most likely ‘be doing a bigger favour for Umno’, which would result in more new seats being created in the peninsula than in Sarawak and Sabah which is against the Malaysia Agreement..

“When we signed the agreement, we were saying that to correct those disparity, parliament should have one third of the seats given to the two East Malaysian states.”

He said currently, both Sarawak and Sabah only have one quarter of the seats in parliament.

“Sarawak and Sabah are bigger and yet they have only one quarter of the voices in parliament so that is one disparity that they have to address.”

See said the EC could address the disparity probably by not increasing the number of seats in Parliament but think of how to re-delineate all the seats and increase the number of seats in Sarawak and Sabah to provide them better venue to address parliament.”

As required by the Federal Constitution, See said the best thing was to give weightage in the sense that each constituency in a state had equal number of voters, which was not practised in Sarawak.

“In Sarawak, we can have a big difference between 7,000 and 30,000 voters and the weightage is not addressed by the EC all this while.”

To ensure a more transparent and open re-delineation process, See said the state PKR would be writing to the state EC to request for briefings and joint meeting between various parties to address the issues.

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