Source: Malaysian Bar
Delimitation Exercise Must Uphold Principle of “One Person, One Vote, One Value”
The Malaysian Bar notes that the Election Commission is currently undertaking a delimitation exercise, as provided for under Article 113(2)(i) of the Federal Constitution. This provision states that the Election Commission “…shall, from time to time, as they deem necessary, review the division of the Federation and the States into constituencies and recommend such changes therein as they may think necessary in order to comply with the provisions contained in the Thirteenth Schedule…”.
In determining whether a delimitation exercise is necessary, the relevant principles in the Thirteenth Schedule that must be taken into account are expressly set out in Section 2 of the Schedule, which reads as follows:
(a) while having regard to the desirability of giving all electors reasonably convenient opportunities of going to the polls, constituencies ought to be delimited so that they do not cross State boundaries and regard ought to be had to the inconveniences of State constituencies crossing the boundaries of federal constituencies;
(b) regard ought to be had to the administrative facilities available within the constituencies for the establishment of the necessary registration and polling machines;
(c) the number of electors within each constituency in a State ought to be approximately equal except that, having regard to the greater difficulty of reaching electors in the country districts and the other disadvantages facing rural constituencies, a measure of weightage for area ought to be given to such constituencies;
(d) regard ought to be had to the inconveniences attendant on alterations of constituencies, and to the maintenance of local ties.
The Malaysian Bar highlights that providing for approximately equal number of electors in each constituency in a State is not only constitutionally required, but is also a universally accepted practice that underlines the hallowed principle of “one person, one vote, one value”.
The only acceptable departure from this principle is with regard “to the greater difficulty of reaching electors in the country districts and the other disadvantages facing rural constituencies”, where “a measure of weightage for area ought to be given to such constituencies”. This is a safeguard against the willy-nilly manipulation of boundaries of constituencies. Read more