Press Statement By DAP Secretary-General And MP For Bagan Lim Guan Eng In Kuala Lumpur On 6.4.2014.
Whilst attention is focused on the Malaysian Government’s handling of the MH370 airplane that disappeared on 8 March 2014 and on the unfortunate kidnapping of 2 women from the Singamata Reef Resort, Sabah 2 days ago by armed Filipino terrorists, Malaysians should not forget the importance of the constituency redelineation exercise presently conducted by the Election Commission(EC). This exercise is important because it would determine not only the future of the country but also the fate of democracy, especially whether the principle of “one-person, one-vote, one-value” can be upheld.
The whole world can see for themselves the competency level of the Malaysian government from these two crisis, but only Malaysians shall determine whether it is fit enough to rule. If Malaysians want their vote to count and to bring about change, an independent, free and fair EC is critical to ensure there is no gerrymandering(the malapportionment of electoral boundaries) in the redelineation exercise.
Unfortunately, the present EC has a track record for blatant gerrymandering and trust deficit that is devoid of any shred of public credibility. This follows former EC chief Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman’s bold admission in November 2013 that the three redelineation exercises he did as EC Secretary from 1979-99 and as EC Chairman from 2000-8, were done in such a way to ensure Malays retained political power and that he did so “in a proper way, not illegally”.
Clearly Rashid, who has since joined the racist movement Perkasa, was gerrymandering the constituencies in favour of UMNO. Serdang MP Ong Kian Ming had said that Rashid had openly revealed that the then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad instructed Rashid not to add any seats in the three northern states of Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah during the 2003 redelineation exercise and also to create more ethnically ‘mixed’ seats because UMNO had lost seats there to PAS in the 1999 general elections.
To-date, there is no denial by the BN Federal government of the gerrymandering masterminded by Tan Sri Abdul Rashid even though what Rashid had done is a clear violation of Schedule 13 of the Federal Constitution, which states that the number of voters in state and parliamentary seats must be approximately equal. A study on the integrity of elections across the globe has rated Malaysia near the bottom of the pile, with the country’s general election last year coming in 66th out of 73 elections surveyed, just above Zimbabwe.
The Electoral Integrity Project (EIP), based at the University of Sydney and Harvard University, released in February 2014 shows that Malaysia’s 13th general election ranked 66th out of 73 general elections surveyed, just above Zimbabwe. EIP perceived the 13th general elections as flawed due to low levels of integrity, due to problematic electoral boundaries and election laws. The EIP observed that BN enjoys greater access to the media and monopolises political funding.
The EIP attributed Barisan Nasional’s (BN) victory to gerrymandering, pointing out that the Putrajaya federal constituency won by BN has just 15,791 eligible voters, compared to the Kapar constituency won by PR with 144,159 eligible voters. The EIP also noted that the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) opposition pact bagged just 89 federal seats, or 40 per cent, of the 222-seat Dewan Rakyat, despite winning 50.87 per cent of the popular vote.
If Malaysia is to improve on electoral integrity, public confidence must be restored by either the replacement of the entire EC with independent and neutral members, comprising of civil society, respected jurists and academics, that is acceptable to the opposition. Or else adopt the People’s Tribunal’s recommendation of establishing another agency similar to the UK Boundary Delimitation Commission to supervise the redelineation because the Election Commission (EC) lacks integrity and independence.
LIM GUAN ENG
—–Mandarin Version —-