In the second session of the Sixth International Short Course of the Association of Asian Constitutional Courts and Equivalent Institutions (AACC) on Thursday, August 10, 2023, Participants from Korea, Malaysia and Uzbekistan gave presentations during the sharing session.
In the sharing session, Sojung Kim, Rapporteur Judge of Constitutional Court of the Republic of Korea, said that digital transformation has had a significant impact on the medium and means through which one of the most important elements of democracy, election campaigns, take place. In the past, traditional one-way media such as TV and printed materials, including televised speeches, newspaper advertisements, election leaflets, and banners, was used to inform voters about candidates and their policies and persuade them. However, after the digital transformation, efforts shifted towards two-way communication on online platforms such as social media, where candidates could deliver their messages and rally supporters. The timing of this transformation may vary from one country to another, but in the case of South Korea, significant changes occurred after the widespread adoption of high-speed internet in the 2000s.
Consequently, the nature of constitutional issues related to election campaigns has also changed at the Constitutional Court of Korea. Previously, the main focus was on whether restrictions imposed on traditional campaign methods, as mentioned earlier, were infringing on candidates' freedom of campaigning or if these restrictions were applied equally to all candidates. The Court has examined whether regulations prohibiting the publication of irregular academic credentials in campaign promotional materials violated campaign freedom (99Hun-Ba5, September 16, 1999).
“It has also examined whether election laws limiting participation in debates organized by local broadcasting organizations to candidates recommended by parties with more than five members in the National Assembly or parties that received more than 3% of the votes in the previous election, or candidates who obtained more than 10% of the votes in recent elections or showed a public support rate of over 5% in opinion polls for district representative elections violated rights to equality,” she explained.
Next, a representative of the Malaysian Judiciary explained that digital transformation offers the Malaysian judiciary a distinctive chance to modernize and reinforce its role in upholding democracy and the rule of law. By embracing technology, the judiciary can improve efficiency, transparency, and accessibility while upholding democratic values. However, it must proceed with caution, addressing potential challenges and ensuring that digitalization aligns with democratic principles.
As previously discussed, judicial digital transformation can have substantial effects on democracy, encompassing both positive and negative aspects. To ensure a positive impact, it is imperative to address the challenges and risks, prioritize inclusivity, and steadfastly uphold democratic values of transparency, fairness, and accountability throughout the digitalization process. By doing so, the judiciary can leverage technology to strengthen democracy and promote a just and accessible legal system.
The successful integration of digital technologies by the Malaysian judiciary will lead the way towards a more inclusive, efficient, and democratic legal system. This serves as an exemplary model for other democracies grappling with similar transformative challenges.
As a permanent secretariat of the AACC, the MKRI is always committed to advancing the association on all counts, in terms of capacity building for the working level of the member states in addition to planning and coordination as well as implementation of activities for the justices. One of the ways is by organizing AACC short courses.