Weekly Highlights

Would PAS agree to the establishment of an IBC instead of further racializing our electoral system?

I refer to the statement by PAS’ central committee member, Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali, with regards to the re-delineation of electoral boundaries.

He has stated that the three Malay-based parties – UMNO, Bersatu, and PAS – have to work together to gain a two-thirds majority in the next general election. This will then enable them to amend the constitution and increase the number of electoral seats in Malay-majority states.

I am surprised that Mohd Khairuddin (pictured), as a senior politician and Minister, would make such a claim. His proposal is misguided for several reasons.

First, the primary purpose of re-delineating electoral boundaries is to adjust for demographic changes over time. The Federal Constitution sets out clear principles for re-delineation, i.e. to ensure the equality of voting power among voters (one person, one vote) and to maintain local ties among the community.

These two principles should be the underlying consideration in any re-delineation process, not race and religion.

Second, any proposal to increase the number of electoral seats should consider inter-state malapportionment and the ability of elected representatives to effectively represent their voters.

I presume that Mohd Khairuddin’s proposal to increase seats in Malay-majority states is directed towards Terengganu, Kelantan, and Kedah where PAS has a strong presence.

Indeed, these states are presently under-represented at the federal level. However, they are not the only states suffering from this. The top five under-represented states are Selangor, Terengganu, Melaka, Kuala Lumpur, and Kedah[1].

This shows that the problem of inter-state malapportionment goes beyond race and religion. Therefore, Mohd Khairuddin’s suggestion to arbitrarily increase electoral seats based on race is baseless. It would instead further racialise our electoral system and divide our society.

Third, Mohd Khairuddin ought to realise that, under the Federal Constitution, the re-delineation process is conducted by the Electoral Commission (EC). The EC is an independent constitutional body. It has to carry out its duties without favouring any political parties.

No government, including Mohd Khairuddin’s imaginary two-thirds government, should interfere in the re-delineation process by the EC.

The DAP calls for the establishment of an Independent Boundaries Commission (IBC) so that future re-delineation exercises can be conducted independently and fairly. The IBC would be a separate body from the EC and the executive. It shall have the final authority to review and pass the electoral boundaries without any interference from political parties or the Prime Minister.

The proposal to establish an IBC is consistent with the recommendation by civil society and the Electoral Reform Committee (ERC).

I have previously issued a statement to ask Azmin Ali(pictured), as the head of the special cabinet committee for electoral reform, to clarify if the current Perikatan Nasional (PN) government agrees to this recommendation. Neither Azmin Ali nor the government has responded to the question.

Instead of further racializing our electoral system, Mohd Khairuddin, as a Minister and senior leader of PAS, should state if he would support the establishment of an IBC so that further re-delineation can be conducted independently and fairly.

Khoo Poay Tiong

MP Kota Melaka

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