KUALA LUMPUR7 — The Selangor government today obtained a court order that will freeze the Election Commission’s (EC) local enquiries in the state and effectively pause the entire redelineation exercise in peninsular Malaysia.
In granting the stay order on local enquiries in Selangor, High Court judge Azizul Azmi Adnan observed that the lack of a stay could cause the Selangor government’s lawsuit to become academic.
The same judge had earlier dismissed the Selangor government’s court challenge against the EC’s allegedly unconstitutional bid to redraw electoral boundaries in the state.
Immediately after losing the challenge, the state government applied for a stay of any action by the EC to complete its redelineation process in Selangor until it exhausts its appeal through the courts.
Local enquiries — which are where the EC hears objections from the public, local authorities, state government — must be held before the EC can conclude its redelineation process.
Azizul Azmi noted that the Selangor government’s lawsuit was “unprecedented in constitutional history” and would have “far-reaching consequences”, further pointing out his opinion that the courts would have no jurisdiction to hear a challenge once the EC submits its report on its proposed redelineation exercise to the prime minister.
“Once the report is submitted to the prime minister, the Selangor government’s appeal would be rendered nugatory,” the judge said.
Despite acknowledging that the EC which is established under the Federal Constitution would have its constitutional functions would be encumbered, the judge pointed out this was merely temporary in nature.
“A stay granted by the court would result in a clog on its ability to perform its constitutional function.
“Such clog however is a temporary one and EC has until September 2018 to finish its redelineation exercise,” he said, referring to the constitutional provision which sets a two-year timeline for the EC to complete a redelineation exercise.
Latheefa Koya, another lawyer representing the Selangor government, said the stay order would mean that the EC could not rush its redelineation exercise.
“We are glad they can’t rush into the process. Status quo [remains],” she said, pointing out that the EC could still continue its redelineation process later on if it wins against the Selangor government in the higher courts.
The 14th general election must be held by August 2018, but can be called earlier.