Independent body to manage redistricting needed - Expert

20 Dec 2023 10:49am
G. Manimaran
G. Manimaran

SHAH ALAM - An independent special body must be formed to manage the redistricting process of electoral constituencies to avoid the perception that the process will benefit only certain parties, particularly the ruling government.

Election analyst Dr G Manimaran said that establishing the special body would allow the function of conducting redistricting to be directly accountable to Parliament rather than being under the Prime Minister's Department.

"We need to establish a special ad hoc body to manage the redistricting process of electoral constituencies, not to be overseen by the Election Commission (EC).

"This has also been proposed by the Electoral Reform Committee (ERC) to the government in its report in August 2020.

"However, there hasn't been any implementation action so far, and it is hoped that it will materialise so that the EC and the implementation of elections will be seen as independent," he told Sinar.

Manimaran, who was also a permanent member of the ERC at the time, said that in its report, the committee had also recommended amending several items related to the redistricting process.

For example, he said that the requirement for the EC to submit a report on the electoral redistricting process to the Prime Minister before it was brought to Parliament should be amended or reviewed to avoid negative perceptions.

He added that the redistricting process should not be an issue as it needed to be carried out every 10 years according to legal requirements.

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He emphasised that these conditions and requirements were also stipulated in the Federal Constitution and the State Constitution.

"If all stakeholders, namely the EC, political parties, and the public, understand the legislative spirit outlined in the Constitution, there should not be any issues causing perceptions and polemics.

"This becomes an issue every time there is a redistricting process.

"Those in the opposition will make it an issue and it continues until now," he said.

In light of this, he urged all parties to trust the EC to manage the redistricting process.

He also said that the EC should act independently and professionally without being seen as bias towards any party.