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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Terengganu’s situation, a warning to EC

To avoid a constitutional crisis as a result of a hung assembly or parliament the EC must ensure odd number of seats, said Karpal Singh.
GEORGE TOWN: The Election Commission “should do away” with even number of seats in both Parliament and state assemblies if it wants to avoid a constitutional crisis, said a legal expert in constitutional law.
Karpal Singh, who is also DAP chairman, said the EC must standardize the seats into odd numbers in its next delineation exercise.
He said this would then ensure the EC is not faced with a hung parliament or assemblies situation, constitutional crisis and unwarranted fresh federal or state elections.
He added that having an odd number of seats will also deter horse-trading, party hopping and money politics.
“The EC should do away with an even number of seats in its next delineation exercise by increasing federal and state seats to odd numbers.
“Any fresh national or state elections due to even number of seats would be against public interests and a waste of taxpayers’ money,” the Bukit Gelugor parliamentarian told a press conference here today.
Citing the forthcoming Kuala Besut by-election, Karpal stressed that there was a possibility that Terengganu would be plunged into constitution crisis if Pakatan Rakyat were to win the seat.
He said such an imminent and precarious situation in Terengganu would be a warning to the EC to do away with even number of seats in assemblies.
Terengganu assembly has 32 seats.
In the recent 13th general election on May 5, Barisan Nasional won 17 seats to edge out Pakatan Rakyat by a two-seat majority to earn the right to form the state government.
However, following last Wednesday’s death of Kuala Besut assemblyman Dr Abdul Rahman Mokhtar, 55, BN now only has a one-seat majority.
Rahman retained Kuala Besut seat by beating PAS’ Napisah Ismail with a majority of 2,434 votes.
Its by-election must be held by Aug 27 as stipulated in the Terengganu constitution.
‘Make it odd for all’
Article 44 (5) of the state constitution denotes that any vacancies in the state assembly must be filled within 60 days.
The imminent by-election can trigger a constitutional crisis and a resource-sapping fresh state election if Pakatan wins as it would cause a hung state legislature at 16 – 16 seat tie.
Such a constitutional crisis was exactly what Karpal wants the EC to avoid.
“The EC should once and for all do away with even number of legislative seats at all level.
“Even numbers would create unwarranted political impact and uneasiness. make it odd for all,” Karpal insisted.
Following the last EC delineation exercise, even the Parliament has even number of seats at 222.
Other states with even number of legislature seats are Penang 40, Selangor 56, Kedah 36, Negeri Sembilan 36, Pahang 42, Malacca 28, Johor 56, and Sabah 60.

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