The loaded dice in redrawing electoral constituencies


Source: The Malaysian Insight

The Malaysian Insight file pic

The Election Commission should ensure that every citizen’s vote is equal to another, and not weighted. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, January 4, 2018.

IF all things are equal, the current electoral re-delineation exercise throughout Malaysia should iron out past gerrymandering that allowed a wide disparity in voter numbers in constituencies across the country.


But as one can see from the exercise in Selangor, the Election Commission (EC) seems to have a different idea of what all things being equal is all about. The weightage of voters in the electoral seats is as different as night and day.

And that has lead Selangor government think-tank Institut Darul Ehsan (IDE) to conclude that the ruling federal coalition Barisan Nasional (BN) could wrest back Malaysia’s richest state if elections are held after the re-delineation exercise.

IDE chief executive Professor Dr Mohammad Redzuan Othman said yesterday that based on 2013 voting trends, BN is expected to win 20 seats, while PAS would win nine, DAP (15) and PKR (12).

While BN’s 20 seats may not be enough for it to form the state government on its own, PAS’ breakaway from the main opposition bloc and warmer ties with Umno could help the ruling federal coalition retake Selangor.

“The re-delineation by the EC in Selangor is favourable to BN,  ” said Redzuan, who used to head Universiti Malaya’s Centre for Democracy and Elections, in Shah Alam.

The current opposition bloc of Pakatan Harapan (PH) currently has 29 lawmakers in the Selangor legislative assembly, while PAS has 13 and BN (12) with two independent representatives.

Redzuan’s conclusions are not based on fantasies but fact. He pointed out that former prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s big win in 2004 wasn’t due to popularity.

The popular vote was almost unchanged from 1999. It was due to the re-delineation before that general election.

In other words, there is nothing fair about the re-delineation exercise by the EC.

It is worse than just moving the goalpost if allowed to go through. It is moving the goalpost during the match and then switching off the stadium lights while the match is on.

Or what one would call a loaded dice.

Already, a number of Selangor residents have objected to the exercise and redrawing of boundaries of the new electoral seats which were already in the air in 2016.

But it has taken an urgent need as the general election is expected as early as March and as late as August this year.

The fear among civil society activists and opposition parties is that BN and its allies could use the scheduled parliamentary session in March to push through proposed changes from the re-delineation exercise and then call for snap polls.

That would mean the new electoral boundaries could be used, and what the IDE has predicted will come through, because the playing field will not be level.

That is patently unfair. Any party that wants to form the government should do it fair and square.

And that can only be done if the re-delineation is done to ensure that every citizen’s vote is equal to another, and not weighted.

Malaysian politicians who keep talking about integrity and honesty should ensure that such talk should start with the electoral system.

Otherwise, it is merely lip-service and we can kiss away any semblance of a democracy in Malaysia.