by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Penang on Monday, February 22, 1993:
Mohamed Rahmat had inadvertently confirmed my earlier allegation that the Election Commission was working under an UMNO deadline to complete its constituency redelineation exercise within nine months
The UMNO Secretary-General, Datuk Mohamed Rahmat, had inadvertently confirmed my earlier allegation that the Election Commission was working under an UMNO deadline to complete its constituency redelineation exercise within nine months
Datuk Mohamed Rahmat said the Election Commission’s cancellation of the constituency redelineation exercise as a result of the DAP’s legal challenge has altered the UMNO’s branch and divisional election plans.
He revealed that the UMNO branch and division elections had been scheduled for after July this year to enable the Election Commission to complete its constituency redelineation exercise – including the increase of 12 new parliamentary constituencies which would also mean the creation of 12 new UMNO divisions. With the cancellation of the Election Commission constituency redelineation exercise, the UMNO Supreme Council will have to review its earlier decision to freeze the party elections.
Last December, I publicly stated that the Election Commission was working under an UMNO directive to complete its redelineation exercise within nine months. Nobody had dared to deny or challenge me on this allegation – whether from UMNO, MCA, Gerakan or any other Barisan Nasional component party.
In my suit challenging the Election Commission for illegal and unconstitutional redelineation – which the Election Commission surrendered without fighting – I said that the Election Commission had failed to advance the democratic process and safeguard its independence as provided in the Constitution.
In paragraph 15 of my statement of claim, I asserted that the Election Commission “acted capriciously and arbitrarily and upon the dictates of the Federal Government, in particular UMNO Baru the predominant partner in the Barisan Nasional coalition”.
Datuk Mohamed Rahmat had just publicly furnished another proof that the Election Commission had violated its constitutional mandate to act independently by operating under an UMNO directive and deadline – which made its redelineation exercise illegal, unconstitutional, mull and void.
Under Article 113, the Election Commission has two years to complete its constituency redelineation review, but as a result of UMNO political directive, it had tried to complete it in less than nine months by June 1993.
The Election Commission had no choice but to ‘surrender’ in the Kuala Lumpur High Court when the DAP filed legal action, for a full hearing would expose all these illegal and unconstitutional actions of the Election Commission, as well as the UMNO political directives and deadline to the Election Commission.
This is why the Election Commission had to invent a mysterious ‘technical oversight’ to justify its surrender to the DAP legal suit in the Kuala Lumpur High Court – when in actual fact, the Election Commission had committed gross unconstitutional improprieties.
Election Commission should present a formal report to Parliament to explain the mysterious ‘technical oversight’ which warranted the cancellation of the exercise
I find the explanation given by the Election Commission Chairman, Datuk Harun Din, in a local newspaper on Sunday denying that the Election Commission had acted unconstitutionally most shocking.
Datuk Harun Din said that as the Election Commission was only making recommendations on the redelineation, and had not completed its review of the electoral constituencies, it could not have acted unconstitutionally.
Datuk Harun Din does not seem to understand that if the first step taken by the Election Commission on the redelineation exercise was unconstitutional, the whole review exercise was infected by such unconstitutionality – whether the review had been completed or not.
The Election Commission has created history in Malaysia in inventing a mysterious ‘technical oversight’ as up to now, nobody is very sure what is the ‘technical oversight’ or ‘minor technical problem’ which warranted the cancellation of the redelineation exercise.
The Cabinet has given its approval for the cancellation of the redelineation exercise, but no single Cabinet Minister dares to go into detail about such ‘technical oversight’ as none of them really understand it.
The MCA President, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik, for instance, praised the Election Commission ‘sky-high’ for canceling the exercise, but he is as ignorant as everyone about the details of such ‘technical oversight’.
Datuk Harun Din was also quoted on Sunday as saying that there is no need for him to explain the ‘technical oversight’ as he had already done so in his first press conference announcing the cancellation of the redelineation exercise.
I can sympathise with Datuk Harun Din’s plight, as it is impossible to present a case for ‘technical oversight’, when there was no such ‘technical oversight’ in the first place.
However, on the principle of public accountability, the Election Commission cannot be allowed to use ‘technical oversight’ to justify the cancellation of the redelineation exercise without presenting a convincing case.
DAP calls on the Election Commission to present a formal report to Parliament setting out in detail the ‘technical oversight’ which warranted the cancellation of the constituency redelineation exercise.
If Election Commission refuses to submit such a report to Parliament, it can only mean two things:
Firstly, the mysterious ‘technical oversight’ does not bear detailed scrutiny; and
Secondly, the Election Commission is acting as if it is answerable and accountable to no one, except the UMNO leadership – which will be another violation of the constitutional basis of the Election Commission.