Split electoral management into three commissions

The poster on the webinar.

KUCHING: The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) has proposed that the electoral management body in Malaysia be split into three commissions with different jurisdictions and autonomies.

They are Election Commission (EC), Electoral Enforcement Commission (EEC) and Electoral Boundaries Commission (EBC).

Chan Tsu Chong

This proposal was made based on a study conducted by Chan Tsu Chong titled “Three is Better Than One: Institutional Reforms for Electoral Management in Malaysia” commissioned by Bersih 2.0.

According to Chan, the current EC bore all the workload of electoral conduct such as voter registration, constituency delimitation and conduct of elections such as nomination and enforcement of the Election Offences Act with assistance from other agencies, including the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM).

“Therefore, we are proposing three election commissions as opposed to one so that electoral management in the country can be implemented more effectively and independently.

“The EC will retain its basic functions on conducting election processes such as voter registration, nomination, polling, vote counting and tabulation and announcement of election results.

“Meanwhile, the EEC will be in charge of monitoring and enforcement of electoral laws and regulating political party registrations in terms of political financing and reporting requirements. It will have the power to investigate, issue warrants and summon suspects and witnesses.

“The EBC on the other hand, is responsible in reviewing and delimitating electoral boundaries when the need arises,” he said when presenting his research report during a webinar on the same topic on Monday (Feb 8).

While the structure of the proposed EC remains the same with a central body, seven commissioners and state offices nationwide, Chan said the proposed EEC would have a similar structure as the EC with the addition of enforcement officers for each constituency as stated under Section 3 (d) of Elections Act 1958.

“The EBC will be an ad-hoc body and will only be established when delimitation is triggered. However, all three commissions may request assistance from other public authorities in carrying out its duties under Article 115(2) of the Federal Constitution.”

He said the proposed commissions must be completely independent of the Executive as well as the civil service and that all these commissions should be monitored by and report to the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on electoral matters in Parliament.

He further mentioned that an Electoral Commissions Nomination Committee (ECNC) should be established for the appointment process of the members of these commissions. The committee should consist of the Prime Minister, the Opposition leader, the chairman and a ranking member of the PSC on Electoral Matters, the Chief Justice, the Chairman of the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam), the President of the Bar Council, and a member of Civil Society Organisation (CSO).

Bersih 2.0 believed electoral and institutional reform was crucial, and this should happen by reforming the electoral management body so that it is seen as transparent, efficient and had the public’s support to conduct elections.

The webinar was moderated by Ngeow Chow Ying and joined by four panellists, namely Senator Robert Lau Hui Yew, Election Commission (EC) deputy chairman Dr Azmi Sharom, Ledang MP Syed Ibrahim of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), and Indonesia’s Perkumpulan untuk Pemilu dan Demokrasi (Perludem) executive director Titi Anggraini.

Also present during the webinar was Bersih 2.0 chairman Thomas Fann.