KUALA LUMPUR – Claims that the Election Commission’s (EC) proposed
redelineation exercise is tilted in favour of Barisan Nasional (BN) and
may aggravate racial polarisation are unfounded, according to political
Head of the National Council of Professors’ Governance, Law and Public
Management Cluster Prof Dr Nik Ahmad Kamal Nik Mahmod said although elements of
racial polarisation were seemingly evident in the redelineation draft, it
however could not be entirely avoided as Malaysia’s demographic pattern has
always reflected a disparity in the racial composition of the people living in
urban and rural areas.
Nevertheless, he added, the Federal Constitution stipulates that priority
be accorded to rural constituencies in terms of allocation of facilities and
amenities, taking into factor the hardships faced by the people.
“Nothing has been finalised yet as the public display process of the
proposed redelineation is underway,” he said, adding that if the EC was found to
have contravened fundamental principles enshrined in the constitution, the
matter can be taken to court for a judicial review.
“The constitution also allows other interested parties like state
governments, local authorities and other groups (comprising at least 100
registered voters) to raise objections if they don’t agree (to the proposed
redelineation),” Nik Ahmad Kamal, who is also senior law lecturer at the
International Islamic University Malaysia, told Bernama.
The EC’s proposed recommendations for the Redelineation of Electoral
Boundaries for Federal and State Constituencies in the States of Malaya are
currently up for public display, from Sept 15 to Oct 14. In Sabah, the EC has
also posted notices of 13 proposed new state constituencies.
EC secretary Datuk Abdul Ghani Salleh has said that the redelineation
exercise was being implemented in accordance with Clause (2) Article 113 of the
Federal Constitution and Clause (2) Article 14 of the Sabah State Constitution.
Both BN and opposition parties have hit out at the proposed redelineation,
claiming that it could create racial imbalance in some electoral constituencies.
The opposition parties has alleged that the redelineation was lopsided and in
favour of UMNO.
Responding to the allegations, EC chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Hashim Abdullah
said the displayed recommendations were not final as they have to go through the
process of local inquiry and have to be approved by the Dewan Rakyat before
He also denied that the exercise was aimed at favouring certain parties in
the 14th general election, and added that the EC was carrying out its
responsibility as provided for in the Federal Constitution.
On criticisms that the proposed redelineation was a “betrayal” of the
democratic system, Nik Ahmad Kamal said it cannot be described as undemocratic
as the exercise was being carried out in line with existing laws.
“The process is being done lawfully, so how can anyone say it’s
undemocratic and a violation of the citizens’ rights? Are the people going to
be denied of their voting rights as a result of this redelineation exercise?”
“As long as our nation practices the Westminster parliamentary system (of
government) and ‘first-past-the-post’ electoral system, the party or coalition
that wins a simple majority (during the general election) has the right to form
the government. And, unless there are changes, our country will continue
upholding this system,” he said.
IN ACCORDANCE WITH FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES
Nik Ahmad Kamal said the basis for electoral changes, as provided for under
the Federal Constitution, was to avoid gerrymandering or the manipulation of
constituencies so as to favour one party, which went against the principles of
justice and fairness.
He said redelineation exercises have to be carried out from time to time to
factor in changes in the demography of constitutions, as well as the increase in
voter numbers and other reasons set out in the constitution.
“The (redelineation) process must be done in accordance with the fundamental
principles specified in the 13th Schedule of the Federal Constitution,” he said.
One of the principles, he said, required each constituency in a state to
have an approximately equal number of voters, with the exception of
constituencies located in remote districts.
“Another principle requires the authorities to take into consideration (when
carrying out a redelineation exercise) the inconveniences posed by electoral
alterations of constituencies, and to ensure the maintenance of local ties,” he
Nik Ahmad Kamal said electoral redelineation exercises provide for more
effective administration by the federal and state governments, which, on the
whole, would benefit the people.
“The spirit of redelineation is clearly emphasised in the 13th Schedule,
taking into account the reference to ‘maintenance of local ties’ in
constituencies,” he said.
He said, however, different interpretations of the term “local ties” have
arisen since the constitution did not provide any further clarification on what
“Some opine that it means constituencies should be adjusted to fit into the
administration of local authorities… and to create constituencies where the
majority of voters share a similar socio-economic status to make it easier for
their elected representative to serve them,” explained Nik Ahmad Kamal.
VICTORY NOT GUARANTEED
Fellow of Universiti Teknologi MARA’s (UiTM) Institute of Journalism Studies
Dr Sara Chinnasamy, meanwhile, said electoral redelineation did not guarantee
the victory of any particular political party and that it was a process that has
been taking place in the country from time to time since 1958.
“The opposition parties are making baseless allegations that the current
redelineation exercise is in favour of BN because even MCA, Gerakan and UMNO
have voiced their concerns over the proposed changes.
“Claims that they are going to lose a number of seats only reflect the
opposition’s ignorance of the whole process. The (EC’s) redelineation proposal
has to go to the Dewan Rakyat, where all the MPs will get the chance to debate
on it and raise their objections,” she said.
Sara, a senior lecturer at UiTM Shah Alam’s Faculty of Communications and
Media Studies, said redelineation exercises have to be held periodically because
over the course of time, population changes take place in various
“The EC also has to take into account other factors like the constituency’s
pace of development and the availability of basic amenities and communications
facilities,” she added.