Malapportionment made worse with EC’s redelineation, says analyst

18 January, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 18: The imbalance of voter numbers in the upcoming polls will be made worse with the Election Commissions’ proposed redelineation exercise, an analyst has said.

In a report by The Malay Mail Online, political and social analyst Dr Wong Chin Huat warned that the redelineation, due this year, will “sustain malapportionment in constituents nationwide and may even make it worse.”

Malapportionment, with gerrymandering, are two vote manipulation tactics often employed to swing the favour of the polls to one party, usually the ruling party. Malapportionment usually involves redrawing electoral boundaries in such a way that there is over or under-representation in selected constituencies, both which creates lopsided and unequal ‘weightage’ of each individual vote.

This means that voters in a parliamentary constituency which has 100,000 voters for one seat in the legislative assembly is under-represented, with a much diminished vote weightage compared to voters in a constituency with 10,000 voters, which are over-represented and have greater vote weightage. While the EC is allowed to give extra ‘weight’ to rural votes, the difference cannot be so great as to be completely unjust.

Wong said, 36 parliamentary seats and 87 state seats nationwide were malapportioned with either over or under-representations of an average of 33 per cent.

“These constituencies do not comply with the provisions under the Federal Constitution sub-section 2(c) which demands approximately equal apportionment with a measure of weightage for area and attention paid to inconveniences and maintenance of local ties,” he was reported as saying.

Wong, who is a researcher with the Penang Institute, presented evidence on the worsening malapportionment of the electorate in many constituencies nationwide at a press conference today.

Among the examples he gave were P121 Lembah Pantai’s, where its electorate will go from being just above average to being under-sized by more than 10 per cent, while doing the same to the already under-sized P119 Titiwangsa and P118 Setiawangsa electorates.

As for state constituencies, the malapportionment of 78 state seats have been maintained while the EC had caused nine state seats to be malapportioned through its recommendations.

He said N34 Paya Terubong is considered over-sized by about 33 per cent while N33 Air Itam is under-sized by about 15 per cent.

“We want the EC to explain why it did not comply with the Federal Constitution in the redelineation exercise as evidenced in our research,” he said.

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