KUALA LUMPUR – Leaders of Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties have described the proposed redelineation of electoral boundaries as timely and hoped that it would lead to a fairer deal for both voters and elected representatives.
They feel that the Election Commission (EC) should take demographics into account when redrawing the boundaries, to ensure that the Members of Parliament (MPs) or state assemblymen are able to serve their electorate in an optimum manner.
They also pointed out that much economic development has ensued since the last redelineation exercise 11 years ago, while voter numbers have also climbed up.
Section 113 (2) (ii) of the Federal Constitution states that the redelineation of electoral boundaries should be carried out at least once every eight, or at the maximum, 10 years.
Earlier this month, EC Chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof (pic) announced that the EC was expected to gazette the notice for the redelineation of electoral boundaries at the end of this year.
He said the redelineation exercise was supposed to have been held in 2011 but was deferred as the EC had to prepare for the 13th general election, which was held on May 5, 2013.
JUSTIFICATION OF SERVICE
Wanita MCA chief, Datuk Heng Seai Kie, said some kind of justification has to be accorded to the responsibilities borne by the various elected representatives.
“This is because some constituencies have very big populations while others have less people, hence the current redelineation is unfair…it has to be streamlined,” she told Bernama recently.
She said it was important to ensure that all the constituencies have a similar electorate count as voter numbers served as one of the deciding factor in the victory of a candidate.
Gerakan Vice President, Datuk A. Kohilan Pillay, however felt that the density of voters in urban seats ought to be lower than that of their rural counterparts due to the disparity in issues raised.
“Issues in urban areas are not similar to those raised in rural areas…urbanites have more issues including those concerning poverty. Urban and rural issues have to be handled differently,” he said.
He also said that it was not fair for an elected representative to have to take care of a densely populated area comprising mainly high-income earners.
“Take Puchong for example…it has more than 100,000 voters, which is way too many for a single MP to handle. He can’t possibly listen to all the problems faced by the people and resolve them,” explained Kohilan.
Currently, many urban Parliamentary constituencies have more than 100,000 registered voters, and they include Gombak, Selayang, Hulu Langat, Serdang, Subang, Kapar, Puchong, Kelana Jaya and Kota Raja, all in Selangor; Arau (Perlis); Seremban (Negeri Sembilan); as well as Pasir Gudang, Pulai and Gelang Patah (Johor).
Kohilan felt that a ratio of one MP to a voter base of 70,000 was reasonable enough to facilitate him or her to interact effectively with the electorate.
People’s Progressive Party Chairman, Datuk A. Chandrakumanan, opined that the size of an electorate should be determined in accordance with a constituency’s development status.
“If an area is densely populated and well developed, it will be very difficult for one elected representative to go down to each person,” he said.
He said the situation was different in rural areas where the population was less dense, thus making it easier for the elected representatives to move around and serve their voters more effectively.
MIC national treasurer, Datuk S. Murugesan said both the geography and population density of an area must be taken into consideration when carrying out the electoral redelineation exercise.
“There was a time when one part of the Cameron Highlands constituency was located in Tanah Rata and another part in Kuala Lipis. Those days there were no highways, so from Tanah Rata one had to return to Kuala Lumpur before travelling to Kuala Lipis. This is why the EC should take note of the geographical location of all the constituencies,” he said.
He also hoped that the electoral boundaries are redrawn in a transparent manner so that opposition parties and civil society groups do not accuse the ruling government of gerrymandering or manipulating the electoral boundaries to its advantage.
As expressed by his other BN colleagues, Murugesan too agreed that densely populated Parliamentary constituencies should be divided into smaller electoral areas.
“If more Parliamentary seats need to be created, so be it,” he added. – Bernama