Yesterday, my Lembah Pantai constituency snagged a victory at the High Court of Malaya in the fight against the EC’s unconstitutional redelineation of electoral boundaries -- and more importantly, it was also a win for all of Kuala Lumpur. This decision marks the first step amongst many needed for us to save Malaysia’s democracy, and to ensure that in the very near future the fundamental “one vote, one value” principle will stop being further encroached by our government.
The court proceedings centred on the judiciary’s role in ensuring a fair, just and constitutional redelineation. Eventually, my team of lawyers managed to pull off an admirable feat when they convinced the High Court to settle on a position that would bring several positive implications against partisan gerrymandering:
On behalf of Lembah Pantai, we are now granted permission to contest the Election Commission’s (EC) proposed redelineation.
This decision has a ripple effect that will influence all of Kuala Lumpur — that makes 11 out of 222 constituencies in Malaysia. Until the outcome of Lembah Pantai’s challenge is revealed, the EC will not be allowed to continue holding local inquiries into the redrawing of boundaries at any other constituencies in KL.
But, yesterday’s victory must not render us complacent. We may have delayed the EC from bulldozing into reality their unconstitutional proposal for new electoral boundaries in Malaysia, but our fight against their unconstitutional redelineation is not yet won. Moving forward, we will save Malaysia together by staying committed in upholding the words and spirit embodied in the Constitution, the supreme law of the land.
For disrespecting the due process under the Thirteenth Schedule of the Federal Constitution, the Election Commission’s proposal to redraw Malaysia’s electoral boundaries must be quashed.
Firstly, the proposed redelineation will cause each Malaysian’s vote to have drastically unequal worth to others. Under the Constitution, Section 2(c) of the Thirteenth Schedule clearly states that “the number of electors within each constituency in a State ought to be approximately equal”. For Lembah Pantai, the EC plans to shrink our electoral size by 10,000 individuals. Lembah Pantai lost over 16,000 resident voters (23% of its original total) from polling areas that are opposition-friendly, while over 6,000 new entrants, including the police district at Bukit Aman may soon be cynically added into the seat. If the EC were to get its way, the result would be a government-biased set of results at Lembah Pantai. Worse yet, Titiwangsa -- a BN-leaning territory -- which is originally the smallest constituency is now shrunk even further by almost 10% its original size. It will soon be 36% smaller than its largest and opposition-friendly neighbour, Bandar Tun Razak.
Secondly, EC also violated Section 2(d) of the Thirteenth Schedule, as its newly proposed boundaries will damage and sever numerous local ties. Parts of Brickfields that is currently within Lembah Pantai may soon be reassigned to Bukit Bintang. However, part of Brickfields is KL’s largest transit hub - KL Sentral, whose residents and visitors often frequent the commercial district of Bangsar and vice versa. Therefore, such strong economic ties connecting Brickfields with Bangsar suggest that both areas must share the same parliamentary constituency, Lembah Pantai.
As a Member of Parliament, I am strengthened to take as many steps as possible to protest the EC’s redelineation proposal. In November 2016, 120 outraged Lembah Pantai residents submitted their objections, which culminated into a public hearing between Lembah Pantai and the EC. In tandem, during the last parliamentary sitting, I also put forth a motion for Members of Parliament to cast a vote of no confidence against the EC, although the motion was denied to see the light of day.
My spirit to save Malaysia from regressing democratically has not wavered. Now, with immense support from my constituents at Lembah Pantai and a capable team of lawyers, I will bring forth the worries of concerned Malaysians to the judiciary. This judicial review seeks to quash the EC’s proposed redelineation for Lembah Pantai, and hopes to set a positive precedent for the redelineation process in other constituencies across Malaysia. But to ensure that redelineation is truly just and democratic, nonpartisan judges are instrumental in the pursuit of justice, invulnerable to the pressures from the government of the day.
The EC’s latest redelineation exercise is unconstitutional and must be objected strongly. It is with this judicial review that I hope to fight against an election process that is fraught with flaws, to save Malaysia from falling off the brink of democracy.
NURUL IZZAH ANWAR
Member of Parliament for Lembah Pantai
Vice President and Election Director of KEADILAN