By G Manimaran | malaysianinsider - KUALA LUMPUR, 6 March 2010
The Elections Commission (EC) said a two-thirds majority was required in parliament or state assemblies to approve new constituency re-delineation or expand the number of seats.
The EC told The Malaysian Insider that it has yet to discuss the matter, as the term from the last re-delineation will only end in March 2011.
Considering that term, EC deputy chief Datuk Seri Wan Ahmad Wan Omar said a decision will be made only after the eight-year period for the current constituency re-delineation ends.
“We have yet to talk on matters related to the re-delineation of constituencies. It is still too early to talk about it as the current term ends in March 2011,” he said.
“Whether or not we would revise the current constituency borders will only be decided after the eight-year term ends. We will meet on this matter only after March 2011.
“If the EC decides to revise the borders, this must be finalised within two years from the date the re-delineation is proposed,” he added.
However, Wan Ahmad revealed that the state ECs have begun collecting data that would assist future constituency re-delineation plans should it be conducted.
“These early works involve aspects like infrastructural developments and progress, population growth, movements and so on... that will assist the EC in deciding on whether or not a revision of the constituency borders is necessary,” said Wan Ahmad.
The last constituency re-carving occurred in 2003, when the number of parliamentary seats were increased to 222, and were used in the 2004 and 2008 general elections.
Works on the re-delineation began in 2002 and was gazetted two years later.
Based on past practice, constituency borders derived from a re-delineation would be used for two general elections.
Hence, observers note the possibility of another re-delineation proposal soon but the execution depends on when the Barisan Nasional (BN) federal government plans to call for the 13th general elections.
The mandate of the federal and state governments, excluding Sarawak, ends in May 2013.
Political watchers claimed the defection of PKR lawmakers may just give BN the two-thirds parliamentary majority it needed to approve any constituency re-delineation proposals.
BN currently have 137 seats, while rivals Pakatan Rakyat have 79. There are four independent seats while Parti Maju Sabah has two.
Wan Ahmad said the EC must inform the prime minister, the Cabinet, Parliament and state assemblies of any proposals pertaining to the constituency re-delineation.
“If we want to maintain the current constituency borders, including the amount of seats without any studies, the EC must inform the Parliament and state assemblies,” he said, reiterating that proposals can be done any time beyond 2011.
He added that although all matters concerning constituency re-delineation must be finalised within two years as stipulated in the Federal Constitution, it usually took between 12 to 18 months to complete.
Based on the current political scenario, the approval process will be difficult as BN does not command the two-thirds parliamentary majority needed, while four states were also controlled by the federal opposition. [malay version]