EC slams The Economist for ‘slanderous’ article on GE14

hashim-abdullahGEORGE TOWN: The Election Commission (EC) today slammed a London-based magazine for claiming that the next general election (GE14) in Malaysia will be “rigged”, saying the weekly’s “untruths’ were causing undue anxiety to voters.

EC chairman Mohd Hashim Abdullah said the report by The Economist, claiming the ruling government will use gerrymandering and malapportionment to win the polls, was blatantly false.

“The EC denies allegations by certain parties that there are attempts to manipulate the election system and redrawing of electoral boundaries to ensure a certain party wins at the polls.

“In this matter, the EC stresses all systems used to register voters, polling and the redrawing of boundaries for the election are fair and transparent.

“We are of the opinion the statements made (by The Economist) are slanderous in nature and has the intent to confuse the people,” he said in a statement today.

On March 8, The Economist published an article, titled “How Malaysia’s Next Election Will Be Rigged”, claiming the authorities had packed opposition voters in fewer seats while ruling party supporters were placed in seats to “form a majority”.

Hashim said the redrawing of electoral boundaries was not done to take care of the interests of any political party.

“History has shown that redrawing of electoral boundaries is not the determining factor for parties to win or lose. It all depends on the voters.

“This is proven in Selangor, Penang, Kelantan, Kedah, Terengganu and Perak, which were won by the opposition for a few terms, using this same redelineation formula.

“The decision by the courts which have favoured the EC (in the redelineation process) have shown that we have followed the principles set in the 13th Schedule of the Federal Constitution,” he said.

Hashim said the method employed by the weekly in comparing redelineation of two different seats was not fair.

“For example, it is very unfair to compare parliamentary and state seats in the urban and rural categories, because they are different.

“Parliamentary and state seats in rural areas cover a larger area but the population is small and is more spread out.

“In urban areas, the seats are smaller geographically but the density is high, exceeding one million people, and are usually centred in one area.

“By right, any comparisons should be made among the different urban seats as well as among the different rural seats,” he said.

Hashim said much of the proposed redelineation had been adjusted after receiving objections from voters and as such differed from the original plans of the EC.

He said the plans were submitted by the EC to the prime minister on March 9 and are not final until approved by the Dewan Rakyat.

Hashim also denied claims on manipulation of the electoral roll and postal voting.

“We want to advise all not to believe wild allegations made by certain parties which are clearly intended to cast doubts on the credibility of the EC.

“We will consider taking legal action if any parties try to spread fake news and cause undue anxiety to affect GE14.”

Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said today the motion on the redelineation of electoral boundaries would be tabled after the debate on the speech by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is completed and other acts had been tabled, including the Supplementary Supply Bill, in the Dewan Rakyat.

Zahid, who is also BN chief whip, said the Dewan Rakyat will sit from March 5 to April 5 while Dewan Negara will begin sitting from April 16 to 30.

He said the motion on the redelineation of electoral boundaries will be tabled at the Dewan Rakyat only and need not go to the Dewan Negara level.

He said the motion only needed a simple majority, which is 111 out of the 220 MPs.

As soon as the motion is passed at the Dewan Rakyat and receives the assent of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for gazetting, it becomes a motion and need not be taken to the Dewan Negara, Zahid said.

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