Gerrymandering, cheating still evident in second redelineation proposal, says Bersih

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Source: Written by Bede Hong for The Malaysian Insight

Bersih chairman Maria Chin Abdullah says it is clear the Election Commission wishes to get the electoral delineation proposal passed before the general election, which accounts for its rushing the process when it has until September to complete it. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, January 15, 2018.

THE second redelineation proposal for Selangor’s electoral boundaries, which was released by the Election Commission today, still contains elements of malapportionment and gerrymandering.

Electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0 said although fewer seats would be affected by the proposed electoral boundary changes, the commission did not address existing distortions in voter representation.

“Our preliminary analysis shows that the EC has reversed most of its proposed changes in the first display,” Bersih chairman Maria Chin Abdullah said when contacted today.

“However, issues of malapportionment and gerrymandering still exist. The EC has not corrected these problems,” she said.

The proposed changes will now affect five parliamentary constituencies instead of the 18 in the previous proposal. The affected constituencies are Ampang, Kuala Selangor, Gombak, Pandan, and Tanjong Karang.

Four state constituencies will be affected, down from the previous six. The four affected seats are Batu Caves, which will be renamed Sungai Tua; Bangi (Sungai Ramal); Chempaka (Pandan Indah) and Teluk Datuk (Banting).

The EC is mired in a protracted legal battle with the opposition-controlled Selangor government. Last month, the state government lost its bid for a judicial review to declare the redelineation exercise unconstitutional.

Selangor filed for a judicial review application in October last year seeking, among others, a declaration the EC had violated constitutional provisions on the delimitation of election constituencies, leading to a malproportionate number of voters in seats.

Malapportionment was “still high” in the second display, said Maria.

She pointed out that the largest state seat, Seri Serdang (N29) had 74,563 voters, while the smallest, Sungai Air Tawar (N01) had 15,033 voters.

“The difference is five times. (It is) likewise for parliamentary seats,” Maria said.

The largest parliamentary seat, Kapa (P109) has 146,317 voters while the smallest, Sabak Bernam (P092) has 37,126 voters, which is a difference of four times.

Opposition lawmakers and civil society groups have long accused the ruling government of collaborating with the EC to skew voter representation to favour rural voters, where Barisan Nasional enjoys bigger support.

Lawmakers say boundaries of urban constituencies have been re-drawn with more of their voters packed in into super-constituencies.

Maria said the EC “continues to bulldoze the redelineation process”, much of which had occurred during the year-end holidays.

On December 7, the Kuala Lumpur High Court dismissed the case but granted a stay pending appeal

On December 18, the EC appealed against the dismissal and won in the appellate court.

Between December 27 and January 9, the EC held local inquiries leading to the release of the second display today.

“All this (happened) in a matter of a single month, although EC has until September to complete the process. It is obvious that they want to get this passed before the general election,” Maria said.

“Selangor voters must therefore object to the redelineation second display in large numbers. We will be having a press conference on Thursday to announce more details,” she added.

The general election must be held by August after the automatic dissolution of Parliament on June 24. – January 2, 2018.