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Redrawn electoral boundaries are a setback, but fight for clean elections is not over

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On 28 March, Parliament passed the report on constituency boundary changes submitted by the Electoral Commission despite protests calling for the report to be withdrawn in light of the pending trial by 107 plaintiffs, representing more than 10,000 voters against the unfair redrawning of the boundaries by the Electoral Commission.

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) holds Parliament in contempt and in breach of the principle of separation of powers. Speaker Pandikar Amin’s decision to table the report despite an ongoing court case is an overreach in authority. It is, simply put, an act of gross disrespect towards the judiciary.

A separate civil action was undertaken by Klang MP Charles Santiago, who sought to prevent the tabling of the problematic boundary changes report, through an ex-parte order from the court. The speaker deliberately overlooked these cases in favour of pushing the report through – not unlike the haste with which the Electoral Commission bulldozed through the boundary changes exercise.

To make things worse, the speaker awarded only 10 minutes each to six representatives from Barisan Nasional and seven representatives from the opposition bloc with regard to the report. This is in no way sufficient to present and debate electoral boundaries, which will not be reviewed for at least the next eight years – especially since over 160,000 persons, clubbed in groups of 100 or more, submitted a total of 1,685 written objections to the Electoral Commission.

The numbers clearly show that the importance of boundary changes is understood by tens of thousands of voters, many of whom took time off work to present their objections to the Electoral Commission.

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It is a national embarrassment that two institutions vital to our democracy, the Electoral Commission and Parliament, have been hijacked and misused for the benefit of one party. The attack on the right to vote is something that cannot be allowed to go unchallenged.

Attempts to weaken the case against the report by claiming that the “one-person-one vote” principle is a move by the opposition to confuse the people are nothing more than lies.

The very exercise of redrawing the boundaries is premised on the “one-person-one-vote” principle, since the Federal Constitution requires boundaries to be redrawn to ensure that there is an approximately equal number of voters within each constituency in a state.

The Electoral Commission has made an attempt to steal the elections from the people by diminishing their right to choose the next government. It has done so by strategically keeping small the sizes of constituencies won by Barisan Nasional in previous general elections.

The new boundaries entrench, enlarge and perpetuate the previous injustice of making four votes equal to one. For example, in Selangor, Sabak Bernam (P092) has 37,126 voters while Damansara (P106, formerly PJ Utara) has 150,439 voters. This is only one of many possible comparisons which demonstrate the ridiculous range of sizes of constituencies.

Bersih 2.0 believes that while these boundaries will affect the outcome of the coming general election, the fight is not yet over. Despite attempts to steal, tamper and manipulate the election, Bersih 2.0 will continue to lead the movement for clean and fair elections through our Keluar-Mengundi-Kalahkan-Pencuri campaign and Pemantau, an independent observation initiative which calls on regular voters to monitor and report on electoral fraud and offences.

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Keluar mengundi, kalahkan pencuri.

Berish 2.0 steering committee

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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Sze Chee Keong
30 Mar 2018 6.21pm

Chilean actress Mayte Rodriguez posted on her social media channel a caption that translates to “the greatest storms of our lives demonstrate the strength of our anchors”.

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