New EC chairman appointed

By SHAZNI ONG / Graphic By TMR

Prominent lawyer Azhar Harun has been appointed as the new chairman of the Election Commission (EC).

Chief Secretary to the Government Datuk Seri Ismail Bakar said the Yang di-Pertuan Agong has consented to the appointment of the lawyer as the head of the country’s election regulatory body.

“The appointment is in line with Clause 3 of Article 114 of the Federal Constitution.

“With his available qualifications and experience avail- able, I am confident that he will be able to carry out his duties, obligations and responsibilities as the chair- man of the EC in accordance with the Federal Constitution perfectly,” Ismail said last Friday.

The Kedahan, also known as Art Harun, currently serves as an advocate and solicitor at Messrs Azhar & Goh.

He holds a LLB (Hons) and a LLM (with Merit) from Universiti Malaya and King’s College, University of London, respectively.

Azhar, who is proficient in electorate law, turns 56 on Oct 26. He began his career in law in 1987 at Allen & Gledhill. He served as a lawyer at KH Koh, Azhar & Koh and subsequently in several leading law firms in the country since 1992.

Among the law firms he served were Khaw & Hussein, TH Su & Partners, Lamin & Co, Hisham Sobri & Kadir and Shafee & Co and Cheang & Ariff.

Azhar replaces Tan Sri Mohd Hashim Abdullah, whose tenure as chairman, which was supposed to end in August 2020, was shortened to July 1 this year.

He was rigorously criticised over his handing on the recent general election in what many had perceived him as pro-Barisan Nasional. This included withholding the election results and holding the polls on a Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin disagreed with how Azhar’s appointment was carried out, although he welcomed it.

Khairy said Azhar is a qualified and credible candidate for the post, however, the appointment was not referred to Parliament for affirmation.

“I am confident he can strengthen the electoral system and guarantee free and fair elections for all political parties in Malaysia.

“It is, however, clearly stated in the Pakatan Harapan manifesto that the appointment of members of the EC must go through the process of affirmation by Parliament.

“Parliament will convene on Oct 15. Why this appointment cannot be postponed until it gets an affirmation from Parliament? Without the new chairman, the EC can still handle the by-election in Port Dickson. So, do not use it as an excuse,” Khairy said in a series of tweets.

The former Umno Youth chief added that although the appointment of Azhar has received the consent from the king, he hopes that Azhar, on his commitment to institutional reforms, temporarily rejects the appointment until it gets an affirmation from Parliament.

“You must not start the process of institutional reforms with an appointment made in total disregard to the very reforms you have promised,” Khairy said.