The Election Commission (EC) could be remodelled after its counterparts in India and New Zealand for greater checks and balances in the way it runs elections, the Society of the Promotion of Human Rights Malaysia (Proham) suggests. Proham chairman Datuk Kuthubul Zaman highlighted the public’s perception that the EC lacked independence, noting among other things that the voting regulator is parked under the Prime Minister’s Department and have its members appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the prime minister’s advice. “So I think we need to learn lessons from different democracies,” he said at a roundtable discussion last night. Kuthubul gave the example of New Zealand’s division of election-related responsibilities, listing various features such as its chief electoral officer is a staff under the minister of justice instead of the prime minister, while electoral enrolment centres tasked with handling voter registration and voter list maintenance.
“The electoral commission of New Zealand is an independent body mandated to register political bodies and their logos, inform public about electoral matters, allocate public funds for campaign broadcasting and receive campaign financing reports,” he said, adding that the representation commission there is an independent statutory body that decides on voting area boundaries.
He also noted that the police there would be responsible for investigating and prosecuting breaches of electoral laws, while a parliamentary committee reviews and recommends changes to electoral laws.
“What it means is that power is divided between different bodies to provide that check and balance. Maybe we should look at the New Zealand model and we should amend ours along similar lines,” he said.