Election Commission of Malaysia

The Election Commission of Malaysia (Malay: Suruhanjaya Pilihan Raya Malaysia), abbreviated SPR or EC, is a commission set up for the purpose of ensuring fair and equitable operations in undertaking the Malaysian General Elections. Its establishment is mandated by executive order of Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad. The Election Commission falls under the purview of the Prime Minister's Department.[1]

Election Commission of Malaysia (EC)
Suruhanjaya Pilihan Raya Malaysia
Agency logo
Agency overview
Formed4 September 1957 (1957-09-04)
TypeRegulating and conducting elections in Malaysia
JurisdictionGovernment of Malaysia
HeadquartersNo.2, Jalan P2T, Presint 2, Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan, 62100, Putrajaya
MottoEfficient and Transparent (Cekap dan Telus)
Employees755 (2017)
Annual budgetMYR 48,634,000 (2017)
Agency executives
  • Datuk Azhar Azizan @ Art Harun, Chairman
  • Dr Aziz Sharom, Deputy chairman
  • Mohamed Elias Abu Bakar, Secretary
Parent departmentPrime Minister's Department
Key document
  • Article 114 of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia
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The Election Commission (EC) was formed on 4 September 1957, under Article 114 of the Constitution of Malaysia, which empowers it to conduct elections for the Dewan Rakyat and state legislative bodies.

At its establishment, the EC only consisted of a chairman and two members – Datuk Dr Mustafa Albakri Hassan together with Lee Ewe Boon and Ditt Singh.

A secretariat was also set up to fulfil the commission's functions and carry out its decisions, with a secretary made the chief administrator. The first EC secretary was H. Cassidy.

After the formation of Malaysia in 1963 and the inclusion of Sabah and Sarawak, another member was added to represent the two states on a rotation basis. Datuk Abang Marzuki Nor from Sarawak was the first such member appointed.

An amendment to Article 114 made in 1981 provided for the new post of a deputy chairman, and Abdul Rahman Abdul Hassan was the first to hold this position.

Today, the EC has a chairman, a deputy chairman and five members, all appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong after consulting the Conference of Rulers.

Constitutional Mandate

Under Article 114, the Commission is empowered to "conduct elections to the House of Representatives (Dewan Rakyat, the lower house of Parliament) and the Legislative Assemblies of the States". Under the Constitution of the independent Federation of Malaya, the Commission comprised one Chairman and two members, but after Malaya merged with North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore to form Malaysia, the Commission's membership was expanded by constitutional amendment to provide for an additional member from Sabah or Sarawak. A 1981 amendment to the Constitution added another member and created the post of Deputy Chairman.[2]

The Commission has the power to delimit constituencies, revise the electoral roll of registered voters, and regulate the manner in which elections are conducted. Although the Constitution does not refer to the Commission as being a body independent from influence by the government or otherwise, constitutional scholars have generally considered the Constitution as intending to protect the independence of the Commission. Among other things, commissioners are protected by tenure, and may only be removed through the same procedure as a judge of the Supreme Court. The terms of remuneration of a commissioner cannot be altered to his disadvantage after he has been appointed.[2]

Members of the Commission are appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (King), who must consult with the Conference of Rulers and appoint a Commission which has the confidence of the public. Although the Constitution does not expressly require consultation with the Prime Minister in this regard, it has been argued that under Article 40 of the Constitution, the King cannot act on his own discretion unless explicitly stated; in all other cases, he must acquiesce to the advice of the Prime Minister, and as such the appointments to the Commission are made with the advice of the Prime Minister. Members of the Commission retire at the age of 65.[3]


Apart from regulating elections, the EC's duties include reviewing the boundaries of parliamentary and state constituencies, holding by-elections and carrying out registration exercises.

It also collects information on newly developed areas to ensure a fair representation of voters in each constituency, promotes awareness on how important it is to vote and revises the electoral roll by deleting the names of those who are dead or have been disqualified.

On polling day, EC members and officers will be stationed at polling centre nationwide to oversee the process.


The EC has been accused of being half-hearted in electoral reforms and in 2012, the chairperson and the deputy chairperson was accused to be members of the ruling party. Both individuals admitted to may have been members at some point, but the deputy chairperson later retracted the admission and denounced it as an attempt to besmirch the EC.[4]

During the 14th Malaysia General Election on 9th May 2018, EC was accused of allowing gross gerrymandering and malapportionment practices by the incumbent government. It was also reprimanded as the ballot counting process was the longest in Malaysia's history, with the results still being streamed in after 4 a.m. the following day (10th May 2018, GMT +8:00). EC has also been accused of making the election day on a weekday rather a weekend. It currently denies that it tried to stop overseas Malaysians to vote.

List of Chairmen of the Election Commission

No.ChairmanTerm startTerm end
1Mustapha Albakri Hassan4 September 195715 October 1967
2Ahmad Perang16 October 19679 August 1977
3Abdul Kadir Talib10 August 197711 October 1990
4Harun Din12 October 199020 June 1999
5Omar Mohd Hashim21 June 199911 November 2000
6Ab. Rashid Ab. Rahman12 November 200030 December 2008
7Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof31 December 200824 January 2016
8Mohd Hashim Abdullah24 January 201630 June 2018
9Azhar Azizan21 September 2018Present

Notes and references

  1. "Government Directory: Prime Minister's Department". Office of the Prime Minister of Malaysia. 8 July 2011. Retrieved 28 July 2011.
  2. Rachagan, S. Sothi (1993). Law and the Electoral Process in Malaysia, pp. 2829. Kuala Lumpur: University of Malaya Press. ISBN 967-9940-45-4.
  3. Rachagan, pp. 2830.
  4. Mustafa Kamal, Shazwan (2 May 2012). "EC No 2 denies he is Umno member". The Malaysian Insider. Archived from the original on 2012-05-04.
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