In the absence of electoral reform, any electoral constituency redelineation exercise will only lead to unfair election results.
Our Election Commission (EC) has proven ineffective as a non-partisan agency that safeguards our country’s compliance with democracy.
According to the Electoral Integrity Project (2014), Malaysia is labelled to be of “low integrity” and is ranked 66th among the 73 countries which conducted national parliamentary and presidential elections between July 2012 and December 2013 – specifically for a serious extent of compromise in district boundaries and electoral laws.
It is therefore all the more imperative that our EC does not simply sway to the caprices of the incumbent to redelineate. Doing so will result in a further erosion of trust from Malaysians in the EC’s ability to administer electoral processes in a non-partisan manner.
Lembah Pantai Umno division chief Raja Nong Chik Zainal Abidin has explicitly affirmed the need for a redelineation exercise in Lembah Pantai, which would only serve to fortify Umno’s control.
Any attempt to ‘adjust’ the elections will be seen as protecting the political status quo and crony capitalism that is now hampering our nation’s future.
The over-dependency on rent-seeking can be ascertained through Raja Nong Chik’s own words, “Rezeki saya lebih baik semasa Tun M. Saya dapat lebih banyak perniagaan semasa zaman Tun M. Sekarang susah nak dapat business.”
His recommendation for a redelineation would skew votes towards Umno, that would improve his business prospects, which have suffered under Prime Minister Najib’s regime.
Do Malaysians, and especially voters in Lembah Pantai in particular, want a leader that cares only about lining his own pockets at the expense of the masses who are simply trying to make a decent living?
In addition, on Aug 13, Malacca Chief Minister Idris Haron has expressed a need to leverage the redelineation powers under the EC’s jurisdiction to entrench Umno’s rule. It is his express wish to add three seats to the BN parliamentary seat of Tangga Batu, and another two in the PKR-held Bukit Katil constituency.
Independent electoral body compromised
This is extremely irresponsible, not the least because the Umno leadership seeks to compromise what is supposed to be an independent electoral body, but because of their insatiable power-hungry desire to further entrench their rule – with no regard for the wishes of the masses.
Indeed, Raja Nong Chik (photo) has expressed disagreement with Idris Haron on redelineation motivated by a desire to entrench Umno’s reign over Malaysia.
But, past experiences have shown that the EC’s practice of redelineation has only resulted in a transfer of votes that would tip the scale to the ruling party’s favour.
In the run-up to the Sarawak state election three months back, the EC had redrawn the state’s electoral boundaries, increasing the number of seats in state constituencies by 15 percent, from 71 to 82 seats, of which, nine out of the 11 additional seats are assessed to favour BN.
So, practically speaking, what really is the substantive difference between the desires of Raja Nong Chik and Idris Haron for redelineation? When our EC has yet to initiate any reforms, the practice of redelineation will only make a mockery of Malaysia’s supposed one-person, one-vote principle.
Redelineation that does not reflect the actual voter demographics, but instead slant it towards one that favours BN, clearly shows that the current federal government is not at all sincere in championing the interests of the public – only seeking to buttress the roots of a corrupt regime.
It is a well-known fact that the ruling coalition of Malaysia uses malapportionment, gerrymandering, unexplained voter transfers, mainstream media bias and vote buying to skew electoral results to its favour.
With the pervasion of Umno leaders seeking to manipulate electoral measures to their benefit, I echo PKR vice-president Shamsul Iskandar’s call for the EC not to be cowed, and to articulate its position on the recommendations for redelineation made by Raja Nong Chik and Idris Haron.
In the spirit to fight for a healthy democracy, we must strongly reject any redelineation exercise conducted by the EC until the EC moves to implement the recommendations stipulated by the 2012 Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reforms, which include the creation of three independent bodies to respectfully manage the conduct of elections, manage the electoral roll and review election constituencies.
Malaysia is in dire need of reforms, not the least of which are electoral reforms to ensure that our next general election will not be stolen by kleptocrats.
NURUL IZZAH ANWAR is the MP for Lembah Pantai and also vice-president and election director for PKR.