Posts Tagged ‘Gerrymandering

29
May
17

The new election boundaries: Where GE14 will be won or lost

The new election boundaries: Where GE14 will be won or lost – Zoe Randhawa

MAY 27 – Earlier this month, in historic legal victories, Bersih 2.0 Outreach Officer Chan Tsu Chong along with six others were granted leave and a stay order to challenge the Election Commission’s (EC) delineation proposals in Melaka.

This means the process of re-drawing the election boundaries for Melaka has been suspended until the court case is completed.

This builds upon the work already done in Selangor to challenge the new proposals.

The importance of these legal challenges for the fate of the 14th general election (GE14) can’t be overstated.

The EC’s motivations for the new boundaries are obvious. The new boundaries are there to shift the balance of seats to secure a strong Barisan Nasional (BN) victory in the next election.

The political motivations behind the EC’s boundaries

According to research by Politweet, BN can win an additional 11 seats in the Selangor State Legislative Assembly with the new boundaries proposed in September 2016. These 11 seats would be won with no changes in votes from GE13 but only through the shifting of voters to strategic seats for BN.

Similarly, in the September 2016 proposals for Melaka, the seat of Bukit Baru, won by Pakatan Rakyat by 48 votes in GE13, would be won by BN with a 1,600-vote majority with the new boundaries. The marginal seat of Telok Mas, won by BN by just 700 votes in GE13, would become a safe seat with a 3,000-vote majority.

Worse still, based on the September 2016 proposal, the Bukit Katil federal seat, won by Pakatan Rakyat in GE13 by nearly 7,000 votes, would now be won by BN with a 4,800 vote majority. This move is especially suspicious, given that in August 2016, one month before the proposal became public, the Melaka Chief Minister called for the EC to change Bukit Katil boundaries to make it easier for BN to win.

The same pattern emerges throughout the country. In Perak, the safe Pakatan Rakyat seats in GE13 of Changkat Jering and Sungai Rapat would be won by BN, with no change in votes. In Kuala Lumpur, Nurul Izzah Anwar would lose the seat of Lembah Pantai.

The legal challenges

For the first time in our history, the EC is being dragged to court over and over again to stop their flagrant cheating through delineation. The rakyat have shown their outrage, with more than 1,000 objections submitted to the EC between September 2016 and April 2017 over their proposals.

The EC has been inundated with legal cases on delineation. So far, 11 cases have been filed in courts across the country, challenging the lack of information provided (yes, the EC doesn’t even want to tell voters how they are affected!), the unconstitutional proposals and the EC’s refusal to hold local inquiries when legally required to do so.

So far, there have been some brave High Court judges willing to take a stand.

Judges Azizul Azmi Adnan and Datuk Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera for the Selangor and Melaka cases, respectively, have both granted leave to hear the arguments of the case and have put a stay on further action by the EC to re-draw the boundaries in those two states.

The Selangor State Government’s challenge is now being heard in court and we have already heard some startling revelations from the EC, including that the information related to 136,000 addresses on the electoral roll has been destroyed.

I think it is fair to say we can expect more such ludicrous explanations from the EC as the cases progress.

What does this mean for GE14?

Even though the Federal Constitution allows the EC up to two years to complete the delineation exercise, the EC now seems to be desperate to finish the process as soon as possible. We can only wonder why this would be the case.

If the EC cared to follow the Constitution, once the court granted a stay for Selangor, this should have halted the process for the whole of the peninsula. This is because the Constitution says peninsular Malaysia must be treated as a whole unit when drawing constituencies.

However, the EC has decided to continue the delineation process “excluding the state of Selangor”. It is clear the EC is trying to bulldoze their proposal through no matter what the courts say. It shows complete contempt for the rule of law and our Federal Constitution.

On a positive note, it looks like the boundaries to the federal and state seats in Selangor may have been saved from the changes that would have led to a rigged election in a state BN is desperate to win back.

For the rest of the country, we can only speculate what the EC’s plans are.

It is now possible the EC will take the unconstitutional step of presenting their final proposals to the Prime Minister without completing the process for Selangor and Melaka. The prime minister can then table the new boundaries in Parliament by the end of July and announce the dissolution of Parliament by August. The election can then be held as early as September.

The EC up to the same old tricks

We are fully aware of how the process would have been conducted if the EC were not merely a puppet for the ruling party.

The Constitution is clear. Seats in the same state must have “approximately equal” number of voters and the EC must try to follow local ties in drawing the boundaries.

If the EC were fair, we would not have a seat in Selangor with more than 150,000 voters (Petaling Jaya Utara) and another with just 37,000 voters (Sabak Bernam). We would not have boundaries that cut households or communities in half to suit certain voting patterns. Local councils would not be criss-crossed with constituency boundaries, resulting in councillors having to communicate with multiple MPs on local issues.

…more
The new election boundaries: Where GE14 will be won or lost – Zoe Randhawa
May 27, 2017 – MMO

11
Feb
17

Selangor lists six ‘supersized’ seats as examples of EC’s alleged gerrymandering

Selangor lists six ‘supersized’ seats as examples of EC’s alleged gerrymandering

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 20 — The Selangor government claimed it is the most affected state by the Election Commission’s (EC) proposed redelineation, listing six constituencies that it said have been “supersized” in attempted gerrymandering and malapportionment.

In a judicial review today, Selangor government’s lead counsel Datuk Cyrus Das named Petaling Jaya Utara, Serdang, Klang, Petaling Jaya Selatan, Kelana Jaya, and Kota Raja as the seats affected.

He claimed the redrawn boundaries violate Section 2(c), Part 1 of the 13th Schedule of the Federal Constitution, which stipulates the need for constituencies to have “approximately equal” number of voter distribution.

“It is not so much about the number of votes but how it is distributed to ensure proper element of representation.

“So when the Election Commission carries out this mapping exercise, drawing or redrawing electoral boundaries, if the results are a dilution of the vote, it affects the right to vote,” Cyrus said.

Clauses 2(c) and 2(d) of the 13th Schedule call for approximately equal number of voters in constituencies, as well as consideration of maintenance of local ties and inconveniences caused to voters when voting boundaries are altered.

Cyrus said the Petaling Jaya Utara seat, renamed Damansara will have its voters increased from 84,000 to 150,000; while Serdang, renamed Bangi, will see its 139,000 voters rise to 146,000;

Other seats include Klang from 98,000 to 141,000; Petaling Jaya Selatan 78,000 to 129,000; Kelana Jaya 110,000 to 128,000; and Kota Raja 110,00 to 121,000.

Judicial Commisioner Azizul Azmi Adnan presided over the matter today. The next hearing for the submission is fixed for January 24.

The Selangor government, in October last year, asked the courts to quash the EC’s allegedly “unconstitutional” redelineation exercise and to temporarily freeze any EC inquiry hearings on the exercise.

The High Court last month stayed the EC inquiries on its proposed redelineation in Selangor pending the hearing of the Selangor state government’s judicial review today.

In challenging the EC’s proposed redelineation exercise, the Selangor government urged the High Court to declare the voting regulator’s bid to redraw the boundaries of electoral constituencies in Peninsular Malaysia as “invalid”.

The judicial review application was filed by the Selangor state government against the EC, the EC chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Hashim Abdullah and EC secretary Datuk Abdul Ghani Salleh.

In a 58-page court document filed in support of the Selangor state government’s lawsuit, Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Azmin Ali had highlighted various failures on the part of the EC, claiming that the voting regulator had engaged in gerrymandering and malapportionment.

…more
Selangor lists six ‘supersized’ seats as examples of EC’s alleged gerrymandering
January 20, 2017 – MMO

28
Jan
17

Court grants permission to contest EC’s unconstitutional redelineation of electoral boundaries

Court victory is our first step in fighting unconstitutional plans

Yesterday, my Lembah Pantai constituency snagged a victory at the High Court of Malaya in the fight against the Election Commission’s (EC) unconstitutional redelineation of electoral boundaries – and more importantly, it was also a win for all of Kuala Lumpur.

This decision marks the first step amongst many needed for us to save Malaysia’s democracy, and to ensure that in the very near future the fundamental ‘one vote, one value’ principle will stop being further encroached on by our government.

The court proceedings centred on the judiciary’s role in ensuring a fair, just and constitutional redelineation. Eventually, my team of lawyers managed to pull off an admirable feat when they convinced the High Court to settle on a position that would bring several positive implications against partisan gerrymandering:

On behalf of Lembah Pantai, we are now granted permission to contest the EC’s proposed redelineation.

This decision has a ripple effect that will influence all of Kuala Lumpur – that makes 11 out of 222 constituencies in Malaysia. Until the outcome of Lembah Pantai’s challenge is revealed, the EC will not be allowed to continue holding local inquiries into the redrawing of boundaries at any other constituencies in KL.

But, yesterday’s victory must not render us complacent. We may have delayed the EC from bulldozing into reality their unconstitutional proposal for new electoral boundaries in Malaysia, but our fight against their unconstitutional redelineation is not yet won. Moving forward, we will save Malaysia together by staying committed in upholding the words and spirit embodied in the constitution, the supreme law of the land.

For disrespecting the due process under the Thirteenth Schedule of the Federal Constitution, the Election Commission’s proposal to redraw Malaysia’s electoral boundaries must be quashed.

Firstly, the proposed redelineation will cause each Malaysian’s vote to have drastically unequal worth to others. Under the constitution, Section 2(c) of the Thirteenth Schedule clearly states that “the number of electors within each constituency in a State ought to be approximately equal”.

For Lembah Pantai, the EC plans to shrink our electoral size by 10,000 individuals. Lembah Pantai lost over 16,000 resident voters (23 percent of its original total) from polling areas that are opposition-friendly, while over 6,000 new entrants, including the police district at Bukit Aman may soon be cynically added into the seat. If the EC were to get its way, the result would be a government-biased set of results at Lembah Pantai.

Worse yet, Titiwangsa – a BN-leaning territory – which is originally the smallest constituency, is now shrunk even further by almost 10 percent of its original size. It will soon be 36 percent smaller than its largest and opposition-friendly neighbour, Bandar Tun Razak.

Severing numerous local ties

Secondly, EC also violated Section 2(d) of the Thirteenth Schedule, as its newly-proposed boundaries will damage and sever numerous local ties. Parts of Brickfields that are currently within Lembah Pantai may soon be reassigned to Bukit Bintang.

However, part of Brickfields is KL’s largest transit hub – KL Sentral, whose residents and visitors often frequent the commercial district of Bangsar and vice-versa. Therefore, such strong economic ties connecting Brickfields with Bangsar suggest that both areas must share the same parliamentary constituency, Lembah Pantai.

…more
Court victory is our first step in fighting unconstitutional plans
Nurul Izzah Anwar
5 Jan 2017 – malaysiakini

15
Oct
16

Human rights group expresses concern with EC redelineation

Human rights group expresses concern with EC redelineation

The Election Commission’s redelineation proposals provide for some of the urban parliamentary constituencies to become extremely large in contrast with rural and semi-urban areas, the Society for the Promotion of Human Rights (Proham) noted with concern today.

In a statement today, Proham said the redelineation has implications on 12 parliamentary and 34 state seats.

“There is a public outcry on this matter and expressions of distrust from different sections of the political divide,” it said in a statement.

“The size of the constituency matters, as some of the urban parliamentary constituencies are extremely large in contrast with the rural and semi-urban seats.

“This matter must be urgently reviewed so as to ensure that the democratic rights of the citizens are well protected,” said the statement issued on behalf of its chairperson Kuthubul Zaman Bukhari.

The redelineation exercise, Proham said, is a fundamental process in parliamentary democracy and this exercise must be publicly viewed as a non-partisan exercise, thereby instilling public confidence in the process and outcomes.

‘It must be transparent, just and fair’

“It is of utmost importance that such a redelination exercise must be undertaken in an environment of public trust.

“The exercise must be viewed by all parties as transparent, just and fair, with no political advantage for any one political party or group, in line with the democratic principle of one citizen-one vote,” Kuthubul said.

Proham therefore called for a review of the redelineation proposals and for objections to be filed by political parties and citizen groups to initiate parliamentary and state level talks and reviews to encourage active voter participation.

…more
Human rights group expresses concern with EC redelineation
4 Oct 2016 – malaysiakini

14
Oct
16

Unscrupulous redelineation proposal – Can 4 be ‘approximately equal’ to 1?

Can four be ‘approximately equal’ to one?

COMMENT Decent Malaysians are angry over the unscrupulous redelineation proposal unveiled by the Election Commission (EC) on Sept 15.

However, anger without action does not lead to anywhere. And if the EC proposal is passed – which takes only a simple majority in the Dewan Rakyat to do so – the outcomes of the next two to three general elections are more or less determined. Then there is a good chance you may still call Najib Abdul Razak your prime minister at 2020.

What actions are we talking about here?

First, state governments, local authorities and any group of 100 or more affected voters should file an objection within 30 days (by Oct 14 for the first round) and then argue the case in the local inquiries held by the EC. (For a technical guide on how to raise an objection, please visit dart.bersih.org)

However, as the inquiry process is basically controlled by the EC, objectors must be prepared to take it to the court of law.

Last year, the EC was taken to court for providing insufficient information on the redelineation exercise in Sarawak by lawmaker See Chee How and constituent Paul Baya.

While they eventually lost their case in the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court after winning it in the Kuching High Court, the prospect of legal suits alerted the EC to the possibility that the redelineation process may not be completed by the two-year deadline imposed by the Federal Constitution.

Before winning in the court of law, the argument must first win in the court of public opinion. In other words, the constitutional arguments must make common sense so that the people and judges would know how the EC has violated the Federal Constitution and must be stopped.

There are two key forms of manipulation in redelineation: firstly, malapportionment which is uneven electorate size across constituencies, and, secondly, gerrymandering which is manipulation on the composition of the electorate.

Malapportionment of constituencies in Malaysia can then be further divided by its sources: inter-state and intra-state. A huge disparity between parliamentary constituencies is caused by both allocation of seats between states (stipulated by Article 46) and allocation of voters between constituencies in a state (the 13th Schedule). Meanwhile, malapportionment of state constituencies is one-layered, intra-state.

Intra-state malapportionment

Here we shall focus on intra-state apportionment, of both parliamentary and state constituencies, which is governed by Section 2(c), Part 1, 13th Schedule of the Federal Constitution which stipulates 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 constituencies, a measure of weightage for area ought to be given to such constituencies.”

This was the outcome of the 1973 constitutional amendment which altered the 1962 version:

“The number of electors within each constituency ought to be approximately equal throughout the unit of review except that, having regard to the greater difficulty of reaching electors in the country districts and the other disadvantages facing rural constituencies, a measure of weightage for area ought to be given to such constituencies, to the extent that in some cases a rural constituency may contain as little as one half of the electors of any urban constituency.”

Mathematically, that means a plus or minus 33.33 percent deviation from the state average. From 1957 to 1962, intra-state apportionment was governed by Article 116(4) which stipulated that the electorate size in any constituency could not differ from the state average by more than 15 percent.

In other words, quantitative limits of malapportionment had been lifted from 15 percent in 1957 to 33.33 percent in 1962 and then completely removed in 1973.

The “measure of weightage for area” in Section 2(c) is left hanging there awkwardly after the removal of clause “to the extent that in some cases a rural constituency may contain as little as one half of the electors of any urban constituency.”

This has been insidiously used by the EC to deliberately misinterpret Section 2(c) to create an unconstitutional guide of malapportionment as shown in the table below, which divides constituencies into five categories: metropolitan, urban, semi-urban, semi-rural, and rural.

Importantly, no definition whatsoever was given to measure the degree of urbanisation. This allowed the EC in the 2003 redelineation exercise to make the hilly Baling a metropolitan constituency (72,387 voters) and the state capital Alor Setar a small town with only 56,007 voters.

The EC does not dare to publish its unconstitutional malapportionment guide anymore after being exposed and slammed by civil society groups like Bersih. Nevertheless, the perverted malapportionment which gravely under-represents Baling still persists in the current redelineation proposal.

Simply excluded from the redelineation process, Baling now has 94,809 voters, almost twice the state average, 58,025.

To stop the EC from rigging the redelineation process, we must go back to Section 2(c). It does not provide for perfectly equal apportionment but it is a reasonable one that we may fall back on.

Section 2(c) clearly means only two things: first, equal apportionment within the same state as the rule; and, second, allowance for over-representation of, not all rural constituencies, but those rural constituencies with vast geographical area.

The phrase “approximately equal” and the word “area” in “a measure of weightage for area” must not be forgotten.

Now, take a look at one of the worst malapportioned states, Selangor. The proposed electorate for Damansara, 150,439 is 4.05 times that of Sabak Bernam, 37,126.

Is the EC telling us that 150,439 is “approximately equal” to 37,126?

Can the EC chairman Mohd Hashim Abdullah even convince a kindergarten kid that “four is approximately equal to one”?

Does he expect our judges to rule in his favour and tell the world that “in Malaysia, four is approximately equal to one”?

…more
Can four be ‘approximately equal’ to one?
Wong Chin Huat, Yeong Pey Jung & Ooi Kok Hin
Malaysiakini

09
Oct
16

Malaysia government accused of gerrymandering to keep PM Najib in power

Malaysia government accused of gerrymandering to keep PM Najib in power

Malaysia’s government has been criticised over plans to redraw electoral boundaries ahead of possible snap polls, with the opposition accusing it of gerrymandering to keep embattled Prime Minister Najib Razak in power.

The Election Commission, whose members are picked by the government, has said it intends to reorganise boundaries in 112 parliamentary seats – about half the national total – as well as 445 of the 576 state seats.

Opposition lawmaker Tony Pua from the Democratic Action Party said the new boundaries are designed to ensure a win for Najib who is embroiled in a massive corruption scandal involving state investment fund 1MDB.

Najib’s push for his own political survival is threatening Malaysia’s future

“With Najib Razak’s popularity at the lowest in the history of prime ministers, and a 1MDB scandal that just refuses to go away, Najib has to find the formula to win the elections,” Pua said on Thursday.

He said the rearrangement aims to bundle opposition-inclined voters into “super-constituencies” with more than 100,000 voters, while breaking up ruling party supporters into smaller, multiple constituencies.

The move would favour the dominant United Malays National Organisation (Umno) which leads the 13-party ruling National Front coalition, by allowing it to win maximum seats with the least possible votes, opposition politicians said.

Bigger political constituencies could also hobble the opposition which has limited financial and manpower resources to garner votes.

National polls have to be called by mid-2018, but there is speculation that Najib will call snap elections next year in a bid to renew his mandate.

The 63-year-old premier is clinging to power despite increasingly damaging allegations that he took part in the looting of billions in state funds. Najib and 1MDB have repeatedly denied wrongdoing in the scandal.

Umno has been in power in Malaysia since independence in 1957.

One year after 1MDB scandal, Najib takes Malaysia on ‘lurch toward dictatorship’

“This systemic rigging been going on for the past few decades,” said James Chin, the director of the Asia Institute at the University of Tasmania.

“There is no doubt this is blatant gerrymandering. Najib is set to win again soon even before the first vote is cast.”

Electoral Commission chairman Mohamad Hashim Abdullah has rubbished the allegations and urged critics to file objections before October 14, adding that the proposals were not final.

In the 2013 election, National Front won 47 per cent of the popular vote but took 60 per cent of the 222 parliamentary seats.

The opposition coalition, Pakatan Rakyat, won a majority of the popular vote, with 51 per cent but garnered only 40 per cent of the seats.

…more
Malaysia government accused of gerrymandering to keep PM Najib in power
22 September, 2016 – SCMP

04
Oct
16

Election Commission’s ‘worst proposal ever’

No ‘one man one vote’ with EC’s ‘worst proposal ever’

MP SPEAKS The Election Commission’s constituency redelineation proposal is the worst case of gerrymandering in all five redelineation exercises in the nation’s history.

Under the proposed redelineation, the parliamentary quota in the Peninsular states – which is the average number of electors per parliamentary constituency in the peninsular states, derived from dividing the total electorate by the total number of parliamentary constituencies in all the peninsular states – is 68,814.

The parliamentary quota for each state in Peninsular Malaysia is as follows:

With Damansara in Selangor redelineated as the largest constituency with 150,439 voters, it is 218 percent bigger than the parliamentary quota of 68,814.

This will the biggest and undemocratic electorate disparity compared to the four previous redelineations.

In 2003, Johore Bahru was the parliamentary constituency with the biggest electorate (90,187) representing a 94 percent deviation from the parliamentary quota of 46,498.

In the 1994 redelineation, there was a 49 percent deviation (Klang’s 69,422 voters to the parliamentary quota of 46,558), 69 percent maximum deviation in the 1984 redelineation (Petaling Jaya’s 67,846 voters to the parliamentary quota of 40,139) and 65 percent maximum deviation in the 1974 redelineation (Ipoh’s 51,569 to the parliamentary quota of 31,198).

This is why all the following 13 “super” parliamentary seats redelineated with more than 100,000 voters should be redrawn so that they do not have more than 100,000 voters.

The Election Commission owes the Malaysian electorate a full explanation why the present exercise is even more unfair and undemocratic in disregarding the “one man, one vote, one value” principle than the previous four constituency redelineations.

…more
No ‘one man one vote’ with EC’s ‘worst proposal ever’
Lim Kit Siang




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All that is necessary
for the triumph of evil
is for good men
to do nothing.

- Edmund Burke
When the people
fears their government,
there is TYRANNY;
when the government
fears the people,
there is LIBERTY.

- Thomas Jefferson
Do you hear the people sing?

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