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IRC to look into cleaning up electoral roll

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KUALA LUMPUR — The Institutional Reforms Committee (IRC) will be looking into cleaning up the Election Commission’s (EC) electoral roll as well as the recent redelineation exercise.

At a press conference yesterday, the committee, chaired by Datuk KC Vohrah, said it has 60 days to submit its recommendation to the Team of Eminent Persons chaired by Tun Daim Zainuddin before it is sent to the government.

IRC’s committee member Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said among the first bodies the committee will look into is the EC and its recent activities leading up to the polls.

“The boundary changes (redelineation exercise) are under the EC. There’s a lot we need to look at under the EC. Its legislation is one thing, another thing we need to look at is cleaning up the electoral roll.

“We can make recommendations about that as there is a lot for us to look at,” said the former Bersih 2.0 chairman, adding that she expects it to be a long-term exercise.

Her fellow committee member Prof Datuk Shad Saleem Faruqi added that the redelineation exercise failed to look into population sizes and the weightage of rural voters against urban voters.

“When it comes to drawing the borders of the constituencies, we need to look at the population sizes and the weightage between rural voters and urban voters. It must be balanced,” said the Universiti Malaya law professor.

The IRC also plans to recommend changes to the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) as it finds the commission’s current format to be “top-heavy”.

Vohrah said the commission which decides a judge’s appointment or promotion consists of too many senior judges.

“The last thing you want for a judge’s appointment or promotion is political or executive interference. Right now, it’s a top-heavy group of people making decisions. Eight judges and one academic are sitting on the board of the commission.

“Don’t you think there will be deference based on this format?” questioned Vohrah, referring to actions by junior judges towards senior judges on the commission.

He said the English legal system does not have a lawyer or a legal expert chairing the commission, allowing a more balanced system.

He also said that by submitting the name of judges to be promoted to the prime minister, it grants the executive the power to reject or approve the appointment.

“If you submit the names (of judges) to the prime minister, the prime minister has the right to request for more names. In a way, he is rejecting those names and by doing this, good judges won’t be promoted,” said Vohrah.