malaysia

EC can’t submit final redelineation report to PM yet, court rules

Azizul said the EC cannot submit its current report as the final one because of an ongoing legal dispute. — Picture by Saw Siow FengAzizul said the EC cannot submit its current report as the final one because of an ongoing legal dispute. — Picture by Saw Siow FengKUALA LUMPUR, July 5 — The Selangor government was granted a court order today stopping the Election Commission (EC) from submitting its report on the redrawing of electoral constituencies to the prime minister.

In granting the injunction order, High Court judge Azizul Azmi Adnan said the EC cannot submit its current report as the final one until the end of an ongoing court challenge by the Selangor government.

“The reason that I’m granting this order is because the respondents (EC) do not disagree with your interpretation of Section 8 of the 13th Schedule, in essence, that there can only be one report to the prime minister and that report can only be issued once the States of Malaya is [done] and no report can be given to PM which excludes the state of Selangor,” he said.

Azizul delivered his decision after hearing the Selangor government’s bid to prevent its ongoing legal challenge against the EC’s redelineation exercise from becoming academic.

On April 25, the PKR-led Selangor government had applied for a court order to block the EC from carrying out local enquiries for its second round of review of electoral seats in peninsular Malaysia, until the end of the Selangor government’s court challenge.

The Selangor government had also applied for a court order to block the EC from submitting its final report on its proposed redrawing of electoral boundaries to the prime minister until the end of the case.

The EC had last September 15 published its first notice to inform the public of its first round of redelineation exercise, which led to the Selangor government launching a legal challenge against the EC’s alleged unconstitutional and illegal redelineation bid.

On December 16 last year, the High Court had ordered the EC not to carry out local enquiries in Selangor until the end of the court case.

But on March 8, the election regulator went ahead and issued a second notice to proceed without Selangor in the second round of its redelineation exercise.

Today, senior federal counsel Shamsul Bolhassan who was representing the EC argued that Selangor’s bid to block the submission of the report was “premature” as the report has yet to be issued.

“So now there is no report. The report cannot be produced unless Selangor has been done,” he said.

“There must be one report in respect of States of Malaya.

“So what is there to stop when the report is not even there? What is there to stop?” he asked.

He stressed that the EC can only issue a single report for its proposed redelineation of all the states in the peninsula instead of issuing a separate report for Selangor.

When asked by the judge to clarify if the EC could submit a report without including Selangor, Shamsul replied: “The report cannot exclude Selangor.”

The report is a crucial part of the EC’s entire redelineation process. After such a report is submitted to the prime minister, it will then be tabled in Parliament for approval and then passed to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong before changes such as redrawing of electoral boundaries is officially done.

As for the injunction order sought by the Selangor government to suspend the second round of local enquiries, Shamsul argued that it was “no longer relevant” as the EC had already completed the second round of local enquiries in all affected states except in Selangor and Melaka.

According to the EC’s court documents, the first round of local enquiries for all affected states except Selangor have been completed during October 31, 2016 to February 28, 2017, with 425 objections heard.

The second round of local enquiries for all affected states have been done by the EC during the April 17 and May 24 period with 109 objections heard, except for Melaka where local enquiries have been halted by a court order and Selangor.

After the court decision today, Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali said it was an unprecedented ruling.

“This is a big victory for the people of Selangor where the state government defends their rights and the rights of other states as EC cannot submit any report until the process in Selangor is completed”.

Today’s court order is part of Selangor’s ongoing legal challenge which has now been paused, as there will be an appeal hearing on July 20 at the Court of Appeal on a related matter regarding information disclosure by the EC.

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