‘Let them have le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tion’

> Bar Coun­cil: Those pre­sent­ing ob­jec­tions at EC en­quiry have right to equal pro­tec­tion of law


PETALING JAYA: The Bar Coun­cil has called on the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion (EC) to al­low le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tion to those who have ob­jected to its pro­posed re­de­lin­eation ex­er­cise.

Its pres­i­dent Steven Thiru said the Bar Coun­cil took the view that le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tion dur­ing the en­quiry process must be al­lowed un­der Ar­ti­cle 8 of the Fed­eral Con­sti­tu­tion which guar­an­tees equal­ity and equal pro­tec­tion of the law against dis­crim­i­na­tion as a fun­da­men­tal right ac­corded to all per­sons.

“The en­quiry process is an im­por­tant one and the pub­lic has a con­sti­tu­tional right to be given an op­por­tu­nity to be heard.

“We also note that po­lit­i­cal par­ties from both sides of the di­vide have ex­pressed se­ri­ous con­cerns re­gard­ing the pro­pos­als, and that the EC has re­ceived an as­tound­ing 836 rep­re­sen­ta­tion ob­jec­tions to the de­lim­i­ta­tion ex­er­cise.

“It is there­fore cru­cial that the EC per­mits le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tion,” he said in a press state­ment is­sued yes­ter­day.

In ad­di­tion, Thiru called on the EC to up­hold the prin­ci­ple of “one per­son, one vote, one value” in its re­de­lin­eation ex­er­cise.

Stat­ing that this is a uni­ver­sally ac­cepted prac­tice and con­sti­tu­tion­ally re­quired, he said it can be achieved by en­sur­ing an ap­prox­i­mately equal num­ber of vot­ers in each con­stituency.

He said while Para­graph 2(c) of the Thir­teenth Sched­ule was in­serted in 1973 to al­low ac­cept­able de­par­ture from the said prin­ci­ple due to the state of eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment then and large dis­par­i­ties be­tween ur­ban and ru­ral con­stituen­cies, the sit­u­a­tion to­day has changed.

“The only ac­cept­able de­par­ture from this prin­ci­ple is with re­gard ‘to the greater dif­fi­culty of reach­ing elec­tors in the coun­try dis­tricts and the other dis­ad­van­tages fac­ing ru­ral con­stituen­cies’, where ‘a mea­sure of weigh­tage for area ought to be given to such con­stituen­cies.

“This is a safe­guard against the willynilly ma­nip­u­la­tion of bound­aries of con­stituen­cies,” he said.

Mean­while, the Se­lan­gor govern­ment has filed for a ju­di­cial re­view of the EC’s re­de­lin­eation pro­pos­als.

It seeks to quash “the no­tice and draft of con­stituen­cies plan for the state which con­tains the pro­posed rec­om­men­da­tions for de­lim­i­ta­tion of con­stituen­cies by the EC”.

It also wants an or­der to direct the EC to pub­lish a fresh no­tice and fresh “pro­posed rec­om­men­da­tions”, which must com­ply with the “thir­teenth sched­ule to the Fed­eral Con­sti­tu­tion”.

The state govern­ment also wants the High Court to com­pel the EC to use the cur­rent elec­toral roll, the sup­ple­men­tary elec­toral roll cer­ti­fied on July 20 this year, and to take into ac­count 136,272 vot­ers in Se­lan­gor, whereby no ad­dresses are stated.

It claims the no­tice and draft is lack­ing in de­tailed par­tic­u­lars, “such as or­di­nary voter, lo­cal author­ity or state govern­ment”, and wants suf­fi­cient par­tic­u­lars in or­der that or­di­nary voter, lo­cal author­ity or state govern­ment would be able to ex­er­cise their con­sti­tu­tional right.

... Pos Malaysia per­son­nel Nur Iz­zati Che Husin, 24, dis­plays the Penang Free School 200-year cel­e­bra­tion stamp se­ries.The items will be avail­able for sale dur­ing the cel­e­bra­tion at the school on Oct 21.

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