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Voters, the ultimate losers in electoral redelineation

  • The voters are the ultimate losers in this game because to a certain degree their freedom and power of choosing the government have come under fire.

Sin Chew Daily

Even as the Selangor state government's action of challenging the EC's redelineation proposal is yet to be heard in the court, the EC has submitted a new redelineation proposal for Peninsular Malaysia, with the new version excluding Selangor. Controversies have since arisen in the remaining ten states and the federal territory.

According to EC's proposal, only seven parliamentary seats in Peninsular Malaysia will have new names, but the boundaries of as many as 46 constituencies in five states will be redrawn, and the changes will have significant impact on the outcome of the 14th general elections.

EC's proposal has since met with strong objection from the opposition parties which claim that the redelineation is both unfair and unreasonable.

There is no secret that the ruling coalition has banked on such a redelineation exercise to accentuate its advantage, and the same has been practiced in many other countries, too. The question lies with the severity of it.

Of course, the EC claims that it has not sided any party and has been carrying out its duties in an impartial manner. Unfortunately such a bland and monotonous explanation does not seem to convince the voters, in particular the supporters of opposition parties.

There are plenty of instances of irrational redelineation that sees huge disparities in the numbers of voters among constituencies. Even the supporters of the ruling coalition remain skeptical over such a phenomenon in two particular constituencies and might not unreservedly buy the explanation offered by the EC.

The criticality of redelineation lies with the fact that it is one of the major factor to affect the ultimate outcome of the election. Through several means such as dispersing the supporters of a particular party to two or more constituencies will effectively thin down its winning chances, while putting a party's supporters within a few specific constituencies will cap the number of seats it wins.

To political parties, such a maneuver will affect their winning chances, and to the voting public, it involves the true reflection of public views. When the redelineation is carried out in an unfair manner, the voters' wish will be distorted and will not be justly manifested through the election outcome.

In other words, unfair redelineation will interfere with the voters' freedom and right to choose their representatives, and their actual wish may not be accurately reflected in the election outcome as a result of unfair and irrational redelineation.

Political parties have hoped to exploit the redelineation exercise to positively influence their election results, while voters hope the redelineation exercise will be able to accurately express their wish and right. The former consciously crave a biased redelineation while all that the latter want is equality and fairness.

"One man, one vote" aspiration will only become a reality with a fair and just redelineation in manifesting the true significance of democratic elections. Indeed, absolute fairness is a tall tale, but the EC must at least provide more acceptable explanations for its proposal.

On the surface, it appears that the redelineation of electoral constituencies has been effectuated to impact the opposition, but if we were to look deeper, the voters are the ultimate losers in this game because to a certain degree their freedom and power of choosing the government have come under fire.


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