Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The case for electoral reforms - Sakmongkol AK47

The case for electoral reforms - Sakmongkol AK47

June 24, 2013
Malaysian Insider-Side Views
One of the most important objectives of the Black 505 Rally that took place on the 22 of June (622) was to ask for the resignation of the chiefs of SPR. It stands accused of impartiality, perpetuating and abetting electoral fraud, refusing to clean the electoral rolls and acting hapless when called upon to act on the massive discrepancies in electoral registers. The Chairman and the Deputy of the EC stood out as exemplars of Little Stalins impervious to demands for the EC to facilitate democracy not to hinder and suffocate it.

Never in the history of Malaysia, has the SPR been overtly political. The two people helming SPR are seen to be the most politically proactive. Their political adventures and frolics lead people to justifiably conclude that the SPR is but another satellite of the BN. it is a tool serving the interests of the BN government. It therefore stands of the side of the Oppressor.

Our SPR has complete lost its credibility and integrity as an independent commission answerable to The Agong. Does the Agong countenance fraud and partiality of the SPR? The SPR must not only actually behave with extreme impartiality, but it must also be seen to behave as such.

With the SPR unmoved and bull-headed, we are going to be far way yet from radical electoral reforms- that is, if we are thinking about asking the present government to adopt proportional representation or something like that. The SPR has positioned itself as an utterly unreasonable umpire; declining to direct itself to address the issues that are wholly under its responsibility.(1) Clean the electoral rolls (2) perform its duties honestly and with integrity (3) justify itself as an instrument facilitating democracy.

Let us begin by asking the EC to do the most basic things first. Tackle the issues of gerrymandering and mal-apportionment.
Boundaries are drawn and redrawn by the incumbent so as to give them advantage. Hence, the average voter density for BN candidates as a whole is less than voter density in PR constituencies.

And yet this argument cannot be carried too far so as to invite unreasonable fears on the incumbent government. Only certain states show the problem is serious.

Pahang for example has the curious anomaly that the number of eligible voters in Pekan is 80,000. It is bigger than the voting public in Kuantan. Maybe it’s time to split up the Pekan parliament into two. It’s strange to realise that a part which is physically in Kuantan is in the Pekan parliamentary area. The army camp at the 9th Mile Kuantan-KL road is a case in point. Najib can have his 50,000 voting public and allow EC to create an additional parliamentary area for Pekan.

The problem is most pronounced in Selangor. The 5 parliamentary seats won by BN have an average voter density of 54,000. The average density for the 17 seats won by Pakatan is 99,000. Every seat won by Pakatan is worth 2 BN seats. Clearly Selangor is the top candidate to address the issue of gerrymandering.
If the average voter density desired is around 54,000 then, Selangor can create another 30 seats. The voter density for Pakatan ranges from 80,000 in PJ Selatan to 144,000 in Kapar. The median density for Pakatan is 112,000. You can see the glaring injustice in voter apportionment.

In Kelantan, Tumpat, Kota Bharu and Bachok are possible candidates for re-delineation as they have abnormal voter density for that state. In Kedah the places with high voter density are (1) Kuala Kedah (2) Pendang (3) Pokok Sena(4) Merbok (5) Sungai Petani and (6) Baling. In Terengganu, constituencies such as KT,Kemaman and Marang have higher voter density than the rest in Terengganu.

The spectre of unwanted revised delineation is not too scary for the BN government.

Was the average voter represented by the party of their choice? BN got 133 seats supported by 5.24 million voters. BN has 47 per cent of the total votes but obtained 60 per centof the parliamentary votes. Surely this is a travesty of natural justice. PR won 50 per cent of the popular votes but had to accept 40 per cent of the parliamentary seats. You end up with the result that 50 per cent of the voters felt they are not represented at all. That is because, we followed the winner takes all electoral system which we inherited from the British Raj.

Umno and BN won the day only because they are saved by the ill effects of gerrymandering and mal-apportionment.

An honest SPR/EC
The good things we disinherit. When the first elections were held in 1955, we did not need polling and counting agents. Election officials did their work honestly. Contestants did what they must do at that time- contest against each other. The business of managing the electoral process was left with the elections officials at that time./p>

They took care of everything mindful of their impartiality and desire to present the true results. After voting closed, contestants could get back to their houses and allowed the elections people do the counting. Contestants could trust these officials not tempering with the counting, not allowing people to vote twice, not allowing non-citizens to vote. Contestants were called after the counting finished and assembled at the town or municipal hall to hear the declaration of the outcome. - sakmongkol.blogspot.com

* SakmongkolAK47 is the nom de plume of Datuk Mohd Ariff Sabri Abdul Aziz, the MP for Raub.

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