Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s press aide has taken the opposition to task over the allegations concerning the Election Commission’s redelineation exercise.
According to Tengku Sariffuddin Tengku Ahmad, the allegations are an attempt to distract attention from the opposition’s fading popularity.
“The opposition’s politicisation of the process and exploitation of the legal system to stop it is an attempt to distract from their falling popularity,” he said in a statement issued by the Special Affairs Department (Jasa).
Tengku Sariffuddin pointed out that Malaysia, like other democracies, routinely carried out redelineation exercises ahead of elections to reflect population growth.
“The process is entirely normal, free from political interference and managed by the independent EC,” he said.
Tengku Sariffuddin also stressed that Malaysia’s judiciary is free and fair where decisions frequently go against the government.
“The opposition only complain when decisions go against them. It is a shame that they choose to run down their own country internationally just for their own political gain,” he added.
In an immediate response, Bersih chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah (photo) said the electoral watchdog is not a political party nor is it against redelineation in recognition of population growth, land development and urbanisation.
“What we are against is despite highlighting the errors and non-compliance with the Federal Constitution, the courts could still rule to allow EC to continue delineating – errors and sundries.
“It throws out all principles and legal justice,” she told Malaysiakini.
Pointing out that the EC has time, Maria said rushing for the election is an unacceptable move.
“If the inquiry in Selangor takes place during the long Christmas and New Year holidays, the EC is doing an injustice and deliberately disenfranchising voters for a political agenda,” she added.
Yesterday, the Court of Appeal, in a majority decision, allowed the EC’s bid to remove a stay order imposed by the High Court of Kuala Lumpur, which prevented the commission from holding a local inquiry into the objections toward the redelineation exercise in Selangor.
Selangor exco member Elizabeth Wong (photo) had said that the state government is disappointed with the Court of Appeal’s decision, and feared a repeat of a similar case in Sarawak.
In 2015, the EC submitted its report on electoral boundaries to the Sarawak chief minister immediately after the Court of Appeal overturned a High Court decision.
“Here we are trying to prevent this and preserve the rights of the Selangor people and voters, which has seen elected representatives in state and parliamentary seats with super constituencies, that is with a large number of voters, compared to other areas.
“Once the EC conducts the local inquiries and hands over the report to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, then it becomes academic.
“What we want is that the voters are spread out fairly,” Wong added.
Earlier this month, the High Court in Kuala Lumpur dismissed the Selangor government’s judicial review application to challenge the EC’s redelineation notice.
Justice Azizul Azmi Adnan, however, had granted a stay on his decision, which prevented the EC from conducting an inquiry on the grouses of voters in the state.
The opposition has frequently accused the EC of colluding with the BN-government.