Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, when opening the two-day cartoon exhibition organised by Perak DAPSY at the Tou Boo Kong Hall, Ipoh on Sunday, June 9, 1991 at 12 noon
Election Commission is acting unconstitutionally in initiating steps to redelineate parliamentary and state assembly constituencies 18 months ahead of constitutional provision
A few days ago, it was reported that the Election Commission has directed all state election supervisors to attend a ‘1992 national constituency redelineation’ special meeting at the Cameron Highlands on 24th and 25th June to prepare for next year’s redelieation of parliamentary and state assembly constituencies. (Sin Chew 4/6/91)
An Election Commission spokesman said that the Cameron Highlands special meeting will explain to the state election supervisors the guidelines for the redelineation, and will direct State election supervisors to identify the rapid changes in the respective state s in the past 10 years with regard to areas with rapid population increases so as to carry out the redelineation exercise.
This is most shocking as what the Election Commission is doing is most unconstitutional.
Article 113(2)(ii) of the Federal Constitution states “There shall be an interval of not less than eight years between the date of completion of one review, and the date commencement of the next review”.
Article 113(2)(ii) states:”A review … shall be completed within a period of not more than two years from the date of its commencement.”
According to the Federal Constitution, as the motion for the last constituency delineation was passed by the Dewan Rakyat in December, and the new constituency delineations came into force in 1985 after the Yang di Pertuan Agong signed the Order bringing the new constituency delineations into force.
Article 113(2)(ii) is very clear and specific that at least eight years must transpire between the ‘date of completion of or review, and the date commencement of the next review’.
As the last constituency delineations came into force in 1985. The next review for new constituency delineations cannot begin until eight years later, i.e. earliest in 1993- although the Federal Constitution allows longer than eights years for the next review to be undertaken.
In holding special meeting at Cameron Highlands at the end of this month to prepare for review of the constituency delineations next year, the Election Commission is acting in open defiance and violation of the eight-year rule in Article 113 of the Constitution-for it had ‘commenced’ to review the constituency delineations 18 months before it is constitutionally due!
DAP calls on the Election Commission to explain why it is acting in such indecent and unconstitutional haste to review the constituency delineations.
The Election Commission Chairman, Datuk Harun Din, told the press early last month that the target of the Election Commission was to complete the constituency redelineation exercise before the next general election scheduled for 1995.
It is none of the business of the Election Commission as to then the next general election is scheduled, as it sole guide must be the Federal Constitution and not the pleasure or desires of any government of the day!
The Election Commission members will be violating their constitutional duty to ensure that it enjoys public confidence when they are guided by the ‘target of the next general elections scheduled for 1995’.Its job is to redelineate constituencies in accordance with the provisions of the Federal Constitution, regardless of when general elections are held-whether before or after completion of the next review.
UMNO leaders have publicly demanded that the Election Commission should begin constituency redelineation exercises, and even laid down the manner in which the new redelineation should follow.
It is public knowledge that every time the electoral constituencies are redelineated, the democratic principle of one-man one-vote is further violated, for this is the occasion for the ruling parties, in particular UMNO, to gerrymander with the constituencies to its greatest political advantage.
DAP to consider legal action to uphold the constitution if the Election Commission refuses to cancel its Cameron Highlands special meeting on ‘1992 national constituency redelineation’ in June 24/25
What is shocking is that the Election Commission has not succumbed to the political pressure of UMNO to being preparation to redelineats the constituencies 18 months ahead of the constitutional of the Federal Constitution.
DAP calls on the Election Commission to respect the Constitution and further calls for the cancellation of the Election Commission Cameron Highlands special meeting on the ‘1992 national constituency redelineation’. Such a meeting can only constitutionally be held in 1993.
The DAP reserves the right to take whatever action open to it, including legal action to uphold the Constitution and to ensure that the Election Commission members do not destroy public confidence in their independence and integrity.
The DAP will therefore consider legal action if the Election Commission refuses to abide by the Constitution and cancel its special meeting at the Cameron Highlands on the ‘1992 National Constituency Redelineation’.