It is important that these two motions on delimitation of constituencies are referred to the select committee for a detailed review to see if the suggestions are consistent with the Federal Constitution
- debate in Parliament on the two motions on delineation of constituencies in the Peninsula and Sabah
by Dr Tan Seng Giaw
(Kuala Lumpur, Tuesday): I rise with a feeling of unease because I fear that the 2003 electoral delineation has not fulfilled the principle of one man one vote and reasonable weightage. Selangor has over 1.3 million voters with 22 parliamentary constituencies whereas Johore has over 1.2 million voters with 26 parliamentary seats. Sabah has 25 constituencies with 746,442 voters. What is the most important is that the Election Commission (EC) should be full proof against party political pressure.
Pax Americana results in war of aggression against Iraq without the agreement of the United Nations (UN). American giant pulverizes the Lilliputian Iraq with serious consequences. In Malaysia, Pax Barisana has given rise to various problems including money politics, gangsterism and tyranny of the majority. We suspect that Pax Barisana has affected the delineation against parliamentary principles. The likes of the Honourable Shah Alam (Datuk Md Zin) imitate the British mynah, Tony Blair. They don’t care about the principles of one man one vote, weightage, transparency, credibility and integrity.
As our time has been restricted, I propose to:
(1) refer the two motions to the select committee.
(2) form a commission to review the guidelines of one man one vote and election offences including phantom voters.
(3) review all laws on elections including the deviation of the present redelineation against the spirit of the constitution.
(4) keep the weightage to the constitutional spirit of 15% or the most is 50%.
The first delineation was in 1955 with 55 parliamentary seats and no state seats. This was followed by redelineations in 1958, 1966, 1974, 1984 and 1996. This is the sixth redelineation.
The Chiarman of EC is Datuk Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman who hails from Kelantan. Like people from other sates including the Speaker, he has written books. He speaks well and goes back to Kelantan. There is a Kelantanese who excells in the All England badminton with the help of Selangor. But, Datuk Rashid cannot add one more parliamentary constituency in Kelantan.
On 7 March, 2003, he said that the duty of the EC was to balance the number of voters in each constituency according to the category such as area, geography and infrastructure. EC had nothing to do with whatever political party and each party should be wise enough to adapt to the changing situation in any constituency.
“What is certain is that EC tries hard against drawing up a constituency for one race only,” he added.
With computers, modern equipment and the efforts of the staff members, EC finished preparing the redelineation within five months starting from March last year. Datuk Rashid must study to what extent the increase in 6 parliamentar seats for Johore, 5 for Selangor, 5 for Sabah, 3 for Pahang and none for Kelantan and Terengganu fulfils the conditions he has stated.
On 21 October, 1992, during the debate on the 5th delimitation exercise in Parliament, I called for the referral to the select committee because many members of the House were not happy with it. Today, I again call for the referral of the 6th redelineation to the said committee because many members including the Honourable from Kapar complain. The criteria for redelineation or the lack of observance of them has created disproportions.
According to projections, the number of voters in Putrajaya will increase. Now, there are only 85 voters showing such a wide gap between the constituency and Johore Baru that has 90,187 voters. If we leave aside Putrajaya with its projections, we find that Lenggong parliamentary seat has only 21,148 voters. JB has more than four times the number of voters as Lenggong.
For over 30 years, Lim Kit Siang has studied the Malaysian electoral delimitations especially since 1974. As usual, he compares the present redelineation with that in 1974, 1984 and 1994, showing the huge gap and the deviations from the principle of one man one vote.
Kit Siang’s comments include: “In the 1974, 1984 and 1994 redelineations, the two states with the largest number of registered voters led the pack of Peninsular Malaysia states in having the most number of parliamentary constituencies, ie perak with 21 and Johore 16 in 1974. Perak 23 and Johore 18 in 1994, and Perak 23 and Johore 20 in 1994.
“For the 2002 delineation, however, this principle has been overturned, with Johore and Perak allocated more seats than Selangor, although Selangor has more registered voters with 1,368,693 as compared to Johore’s 1,223,532 and Perak’s 1,138,010.
“Selangor, which registered a 44.18% (more) voters on its electoral list as compared to the 1994 redelineation, is allocated an increase of five P while Johore is given an increase of six seats when it registered an increase of only 24.53% of voters during the same period and Perak given an increase of one seat when it had a mere 8.12% voters’ increase.
“Why Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah have not been allocated one new seat each in view of the 16.2%, 21.76% and 17.4% increase of voters respectively since the last redelineation exercise as Negeri Sembilan and Malacca are allocated one new seat each with 20.04% and 23% increase of voters respectively.”
In the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, Seputeh has 73,311 voters whereas Wangsa Maju only 50,575. This is disproportionate. The shape of Cheras and Titiwangsa is odd, like a crab pincers, especially Cheras. It is clear that EC has to review its criteria and guidelines, making them more rational for all constituencies.
In Sabah, the parliamentary constituency of Kota Kinabalu (55.57 square Km) has 43,048 voters compared to Pensiangan (8325.38 square Km) 17,717 and Kinabatangan (17,877.04 square Km) 18.611.
Article 2© of the 13th Schedule of the Federal Constitution provides that: “the number of electors within each constituency in a State ought to be approximately equal except that, having regard to the greater difficulty of reaching electors in the country districts and the other disadvantages facing rural communities. A measure of weightage for area ought to be given to such constituencies.
Yuan mu qiu yu. Mengzi (Mencius)(372 BC-289 BC), the Chinese thinker says in his book Liang Hui Wang Shang:”yi ruo suo wei, qiu ruo suo yu, you yuan mu qiu yu ye.” (Like climbing a tree to find fish. It is a wrong direction and method. It is impossible to achieve the objective.)
(Fortunately, Malaysian society is getting more polyglot. People don’t have any hang-up on learning English, Arabic, Mandarin, Tamil and so forth.)
The Government maintains that we practise parliamentary democracy. We must review its contents. One foundations is the fairness of redelineation of constituencies including weightage for less developed areas. If Kinabatangan is criss-crossed with waterways and islands, we give a weightage. But, this is not unlimited. If it is 15. 25 or 50% weightage, we can consider. I have repeated this many times especially since 1984. Johore with 26 parliamentary constituencies, Selangor 22 and Johore Bharu has over four times the number of voters compared to Lenggong are unfair and unjust.
* Dr Tan Seng Giaw, DAP National Vice Chairman & MP for Kepong