Penang govt to pursue leave to appeal bid against EC's redelineation exercise: Lawyer

PUTRAJAYA: The Penang state government is proceeding with its leave to appeal application against the Election Commission's (EC) redelineation exercise, the Federal Court here was told today.

Lawyer Leong Cheok Keng representing the Penang government informed the Federal Court three-man bench today that it wanted to pursue the matter to clarify on the law on whether the EC's recommendations on the redelineation of electoral boundaries were justiciable and amendable to judicial review.

Leong however said senior federal counsel Shamsul Bolhassan needed time to seek the view of the newly appointed Attorney-General (AG) Tommy Thomas on whether or not he was contesting the application.

Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Ahmad Maarop who chaired the bench subsequently adjourned the matter to Aug 13 for mention.

Presiding with him were Federal Court judges Datuk Rohana Yusuf and Datuk Mohd Zawawi Salleh.

Leong said the view taken by the High Court and Court of Appeal was that the EC's recommendations for the redelineation exercise in parliamentary and state constituencies were not amendable to judicial review.

In today's proceeding, Leong informed the court that there appeared to be some confusion.

He said he had written to Thomas to inform him that the state government would pursue the matter but a letter from the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) to him stated that the AGC was no longer representing the EC.

In a statement issued by Thomas last month, the AGC, would no longer appear for the EC in any election petition and the EC must appoint members of the Malaysian Bar of its choice to represent it in the legal proceedings.

Leong, who had mentioned the matter on behalf of the senior federal counsel in today's proceeding, said the AG had to intervene as the matter was at the leave for judicial review stage at the High Court level and the EC was not yet a party to the proceedings.

He said the matter was still at the ex-parte stage and that the EC would only be made a party if leave for judicial review was granted to the Penang state government.

The Penang High Court, on Nov 20 last year, denied the state government's bid for leave to initiate judicial review to challenge the EC's proposal for redelineation of electoral boundaries.

The state government lost its appeal at the Court of Appeal on Feb 21 this year, prompting it to bring the matter to the Federal Court by filing a leave to appeal application at the Federal Court.

Outside the court, Leong said he wanted a ruling so that the EC would be guided when it carries out the next redelineation exercise in eight years' time. — Bernama