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Verdict on redelineation exercise to be announced tomorrow

 | January 9, 2017

The Election Commission's ongoing redelineation exercise will be suspended if the Court of Appeal rules tomorrow that voters are entitled to all information pertaining to the exercise.

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PETALING JAYA: Activist Haris Ibrahim will know tomorrow whether he is entitled to receive relevant information once the Election Commission (EC) has gazetted its proposal to carry out the redelineation exercise.

A three-man Court of Appeal bench chaired by Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat will deliver its ruling tomorrow after having heard submissions from lawyers for Haris and the EC last October.

“If you are God-believing, pray that justice will prevail. And if you are not, hold on to hope,” said Haris in his blog.

Later, he also told FMT that in India the EC there made available all pertinent information to its 600 million voters by way of digital maps for all constituencies.

“Such information will allow voters to make decisions whether they need to file objections to the EC’s proposed redelineation exercise,” he said.

This ruling is important as Haris’ lawyer Malik Imtiaz Sarwar had urged the bench to depart from an earlier ruling made in August 2015.

In that ruling, the Court of Appeal, which overturned the decision of the High Court in Kuching, held that voters were not entitled to know the reason behind the proposed delineation exercise.

The bench chaired by Mohd Zawawi Salleh ruled that voters only need to know the consequences of the EC’s recommendations.

In that case, Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How, representing himself, and a voter in Ulu Baram, Pauls Baya, had brought an action to nullify the notice of recommendations by the EC for the proposed redelineation exercise for Sarawak.

Recalling the event, Haris had said in October 2014 the EC had made public statements that it was then collating information with a view to commence a nationwide redelineation exercise.

The EC also had announced then that once the notice of the proposed redelineation had been gazetted, the public could inspect the proposed redelineation at selected places and registered voters could make representations if they were unhappy.

On Dec 8, 2014, Haris wrote to the EC asking for information to better understand any proposed redelineation to his parliamentary seat (Petaling Jaya Selatan) and state constituency (Bukit Gasing).

He did not get any reply from the EC.

In January 2015, he commenced proceedings in the Kuala Lumpur High Court but the suit was dismissed in June the same year on grounds his action was premature as the EC had not yet issued any notice of a proposed redelineation.

On September 15 last year, the EC gazetted a notice issued under Section 4, Part 2, 13th Schedule of the Federal Constitution to carry out the proposed redelineation in the peninsular and Sabah.

With the exception of Selangor and Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, the EC is currently conducting inquiries with voters in all other states.

Should the court rule in favour of Haris, these exercises will have to be suspended pending a decision by the Federal Court.


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