Ravinder Singh recalls how the electoral system was manipulated to secure a two-thirds victory for the BN over the years and concludes that gerrymandering is cheating, and cheating is haram in Islam.
Dear Home Minister, stop lying. Stop being in denial mode. Stop believing that all Malaysians will believe what you want them to believe.
It is NOT the system that angers people, but the mischief, fraud, cunning, etc. that goes on behind the scenes to keep the dacing tilted to ensure BN “victory” all the time.
It is the BN that is the actual loser this time around and it refuses to accept the fact that its gerrymandering game, coupled with all the corruption in cash and kind, was not good enough to secure it a two-thirds majority.
Had it secured the coveted two-thirds majority after the tsunami of 2008, elections themselves could have become history. That is what a two-thirds majority, in the hands of a party obsessed with holding on to power at all costs, even by breaking bones and crushing bodies, could do – amend the Constitution to do away with elections!
Fraud upon fraud
For Home Minister and concurrently Umno vice president Zahid Hamidi to assert that it is the first-past-the-post electoral system that is to blame for the election results that enables a party winning 47 per cent of the popular vote to secure 60 per cent of the seats in Parliament and form the government, amounts to a fraud upon a fraud.
The first fraud is the violation of the Constitutional directive that the number of voters in the constituencies should be approximately equal. To any reasonable person, “approximately equal” means a margin of tolerance of just a few percent. The independence Constitution (1957) had provided for a margin of 15 per cent difference.
In 1962, the ruling party used its two-thirds majority to amend this Constitutional provision to 50 per cent.
After this, still feeling insecure, and to ensure its two-thirds majority was inviolable, once again it used its two-thirds majority to amend this Constitutional provision. This time, in 1973, the percentage figure was totally removed leaving only the phrase “approximately equal”.
This left it to the whims and fancies of the Executive, with the EC acting as the front-person to interpret this phrase, and have the EC implement it dutifully.
Arming itself with this weapon alone was not enough. It needed a sure-fire way of identifying areas that were “unsafe” and neutralising them. This led to the innovation in the vote-counting process.
In the first few elections after independence, ballots from all the polling stations in a state constituency used to be taken to one counting centre. The ballots from the whole constituency would be mixed before counting so that it would not be known how the voters at any of the stations had voted. This was to ensure secrecy – true secrecy – of the votes.
Spying on political leanings
Then, this system was suddenly changed. Novel excuses were given to hide the motive for the change – i.e. counting would be faster and it would be safer than transporting the ballots to a counting centre. Unfortunately, people were happy with the change as the results could actually be known earlier.
But the “udang sebalik batu” (the prawn behind the rock, or literally, the hidden motive) was not seen. This was a clever and subtle way of discovering how small areas in each constituency had voted. Excellent spying! The motive was to spy on the political leanings of small groups of people, throughout the country, living in clearly defined areas around each polling station.
Each polling stream has between 200-600 voters and they are from localities within a short distance of the station. The localities are stated in the electoral roll. So if 80 per cent of the votes in a particular stream at a particular station are for a certain party, their locality is marked as black or white for the next delineation exercise.
New boundaries are then drawn around the black and white areas, never mind if the boundaries zig-zag crazily. This way, the end results are constituencies like Kapar and Putrajaya.
The second fraud is to cover up the first fraud by claiming that it is the first-past-the-post Westminster system which is used in Malaysia that is at fault.
Dear Zahid, please show us how many of the constituencies in the UK have numbers that vary as much as in Malaysia . You should know that the Federal Constitution directs that the number of voters in the various constituencies should be “approximately equal”. Is the number in Kapar (144,159) approximately equal to that in Putrajaya (15,791)?
Halal by Islamic standards?
There are approximately 10 times more voters in Kapar than in Putrajaya. Does this kind of difference exist in the UK? Is it lawful? Is it halal by Islamic standards?
What kind of a dirty game is it to remove the 15 per cent and 50 per cent figures from the Constitution and then interpret “approximately equal” to mean anything but approximately equal as honest people understand the phrase to mean? In no language can 144,159 be understood as being “approximately equal” to 15,791.
Swallow your pride and arrogance and, as a Muslim, acknowledge that gerrymandering is cheating, and cheating is HARAM. To win by engaging in HARAM activity is disgraceful. Have some sense of shame.
Ravinder Singh, a former teacher, is an activist based in Penang and regular contributor to our Thinking Allowed Online section.