King appoints new EC members, including Bersih activist

Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah has appointed five new members to the Election Commission.

The five are Universiti Malaya law lecturer Azmi Sharom, former Foreign Ministry chief secretary Ramlan Ibrahim, former Human Resource Ministry director-general Chin Paik Yoong, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia senior fellow Faisal S Hazis and Bersih 2.0 resource person Zoe Randhawa.

Chief secretary to the government Ismail Bakar said their term would begin on the day they report for duty and will expire when they reach 66 years of age.

These appointments have broken several conventions. Commission members are usually chosen from amongst retired senior civil servants.

One seat is conventionally reserved for a former top-ranking police personnel. The current line-up has none.

The current crop of commissioners will also likely be the youngest, on average, in Malaysian history.

Azmi has been appointed deputy chairperson of the EC. The outspoken academic was once arrested and charged for making allegedly seditious remarks in 2014. Prosecutors dropped the case in 2016.

The last crop of EC members resigned ahead of their mandatory retirement after the general election last year.

Six former EC members – Othman Mahmood, Mohd Yusop Mansor, Abdul Aziz Khalidin, Sulaiman Narawi, K Bala Singam, and Leo Chong Cheong – are currently facing a tribunal over alleged misconduct in relation to the last general election.