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No More Blackout in Voting as King Appoints New EC Members from Bersih Activist, Law Profs

It has been nine months since May 9 where Malaysia first witnessed a change of government in our country’s 61 years history. Pakatan Harapan chairman and now-acting Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad admitted that he did not expect the then-opposition could oust Barisan Nasional, citing that BN could have a lot of tricks up their sleeves to dupe their ways to victory, NST reported.

The corrupted ex-government narrative is so strong that it still hurts the country’s reformation progress today. However, it looks like our King is on the same page with PH’s reformation agenda as he has elected five prominent fair-election activists as new members of the Election Commission.

(From left to right) Ramlan Ibrahim, Zoe Randhawa, Azmi Sharom, Faisal S Hazis and Chin Paik Yoong. Source: Malaysiakini

According to Malaysiakini, the five are Universiti Malaya law lecturer Azmi Sharom, former Foreign Ministry chief secretary Ramlan Ibrahim, former Human Resource Ministry director-general Chin Paik Yoong, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia associate professor Faisal S Hazis and Bersih 2.0 resource person Zoe Randhawa.

Dr Azmi will be the deputy chairman, the hand to the current chairman Azhar Harun who was appointed September last year as part of a major reformation of the election authority, FMT reported.

Azmi Sharom. Source: youtube

(Second from the left) Zoe Randhawa. Source: The Malaysian Insight

Dr Azmi has been vocal in Malaysia’s politics despite not holding any political role. There was once he even got arrested for allegedly making seditious remarks in 2014. The Sun Daily reported former Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah as saying that the appointment of Dr Azmi and Bersih member Zoe Randhawa was a step forward for the country.

Maria Chin Abdullah. Source: MH Online

“It’s very clear about what we want as a clean and fair election. I am very confident (EC chairman) Azhar Azizan Harun, together with this team will do a good job.

“My expectation really is for the EC to now clean up the electoral roll, to resolve the issue of delineation in the country and also to change the whole electoral system,” said Maria Chin who is now Petaling Jaya MP.

The Star reported that the new members will have to resign their current posts before becoming EC commissioners. Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah consented the appointments in accordance with the rule of law under Article 114 (1) of the Federal Constitution.

The new king from Pahang, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah. Source: kosmo

The new appointments have broken several traditional practices where in the past, EC only appointed members from retired senior civil servants and one spot specifically reserved for a former top-ranking police officer, Malaysiakini noted. The current lineup has none.

The appointments will come into effect from the day they report to work until they reach the age of 66. None of them can hold any other position during the stint, regardless if it is political, academic or non-governmental organization.

Previously, six EC members resigned their roles which came into effect on the first day of 2019. Since then, the posts had been vacant until yesterday’s appointments. Besides, six EC members are also facing a tribunal over alleged mishandling during GE14.

Source: FMT

The 10 alleged offences are:

  1. unconstitutional redelineation,
  2. limitation of voter registration,
  3. setting polling day on a weekday,
  4. short campaign period,
  5. last-minute conditions on campaign materials,
  6. manipulation of election observation,
  7. arbitrarily disqualifying candidates on nomination day,
  8. irregularities with advance voting,
  9. conduct of elections on polling day and,
  10. failure to act on election offences.

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