Azhar Azizan Harun's exit as the Election Commission (EC) chairperson has sparked concerns that ongoing efforts to reform the electoral process will be halted under the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government.
In a statement yesterday, Kota Melaka MP Khoo Poay Tiong said under Azhar's (photo, above) stewardship, polling stations are now more friendly to the disabled and elderly, while the voting process has been made more transparent due to the appointment of credible observers and the counting process live streamed.
Khoo, who is a member of the Select Committee on Elections, also noted that the EC has cleaned up the voter list by removing 348,098 deceased individuals from the list between 2017 and August 2019.
"Azhar's resignation has now cast doubt over the prospect of further electoral reform.
"Nevertheless, I call upon the remaining EC members to remain steadfast and complete the reforms they have started," he said.
Azhar, a senior lawyer, resigned this week and will be nominated as the new Dewan Rakyat speaker when Parliament reconvenes on Monday.
As for the remaining six EC members, the government cannot force their resignation and can only remove them by means of tribunal under Article 114(3) of the Federal Constitution.
Khoo (above) also questioned Putrajaya over the fate of the Electoral Reform Committee (ERC), which was established in 2018 by the Pakatan Harapan government to recommend improvements to the electoral process.
He noted that the ERC was supposed to submit its report in August and pondered aloud if this plan would be followed through.
He also questioned if the Select Committee on Elections, which was set up in 2019, would be maintained by the PN government.
"I call upon all stakeholders, including the government, EC, political parties, and civil society to continue on with the electoral reform process.
"Electoral reform should be a bipartisan issue championed by all Malaysians, as elections are at the heart of our democracy," Khoo said.
The ERC had submitted its preliminary report to then prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad in January, recommending a mixed-proportional representation system to replace the current system and a boundary commission, among others, to redraw election boundaries.