Friday, November 14, 2014

Will we, the 52%, strike back?

haris-ibrahim211.2 million registered voters cast their votes at the poll at the last general election. 52% voted for a regime change in Putrajaya. I was one of them.

Since the result was announced, to this day I feel cheated.

This week I chatted with Maria Chin Abdullah and Wong Piang Yow on the 'Agree to Disagree…with Haris Ibrahim' show.

And over the last few days, I have ploughed through the report of The People’s Tribunal on the 13th General Election.

On the Election Commission, the tribunal reported, at page 60 of the report, that it is “hard to escape the conclusion that the EC of Malaysia was designed as an instrument of the ruling party to keep it in power”.

the-people-tribunalOn the matter of constituency boundaries, the tribunal reported that “It is hard to see how having one constituency nine times the size of another in terms of electorate can be described as ‘approximately equal’.

"The EC failed to implement the principle of equal representation in apportionment and districting…there is considerable evidence that these anomalies work in one direction only: to the benefit of the ruling coalition."

To make a long story short, a major factor that led to the 52% being cheated at the 13th GE was the extensive malapportionment and gerrymandering that afflict our constituencies.

The EC has announced that it is ready to kick off a delimitation exercise which will entail a re-drawing of constituency boundaries, that may even lead to an increase in the number of constituencies, both parliamentary and state.

Should we hope that the EC will look to re-draw boundaries with a view to, as best as it can, equalize the constituencies, or will it continue to serve “as an instrument of the ruling party to keep it in power”?

Maria says she does not trust the EC to serve the interests of the Rakyat.
I, too, do not trust it.

And Wong takes the view that this delimitation exercise offers us, the 52%, the best opportunity to right the inherent wrongs in our present constituency boundaries.
“Haris, we will not have another opportunity like this for another 50 years," was how he put it.

Two things, according to Wong, can be achieved if we are permitted to effectively exercise our constitutional right with regard to this imminent delimitation exercise.

First, we can work towards equalizing our constituencies, aspiring towards achieving the ideal of 1 person, 1 vote, 1 value throughout the constituencies.

Second, and this will go a long way towards helping us achieve the first, to prevent the increase in the number of parliamentary constituencies from the existing 222, which, according to Wong, already far exceeds the number that we actually need.

What is this constitutional right that Wong speaks of? Under the constitution, once the proposed delimitation has been duly gazetted, there is a 30-day period during which objections may be lodged with the EC by a minimum of 100 registered voters in a particular constituency in respect of the proposed re-drawing of that constituency boundary.

Wong warns, however, that there are barriers to the effective exercise of this constitutional right that you and I have.

First, the period for objection is very short: 30 days. Then, you need to have at least 99 others to make up the requisite 100 objectors.
Then comes the biggest barrier.

EC's not being forthcoming with the information that you will need. Let me illustrate this point. I vote in PJ Selatan and Bukit Gasing. EC has just gazetted its proposed delimitation for the whole country. My 30-day period to object has started.

The proposed new boundaries for PJ Selatan and Bukit Gasing are on display at, say, the MBPJ building.
Great. I go and look at it.

But I want to compare this with that of the 21 other parliamentary and 55 other state constituencies in Selangor to see if they are ‘approximately equal’, as stipulated in the 13th Schedule of the Constitution. No maps of the other constituencies are on display at MBPJ. They are not available online on the EC website.

I call EC and it informs me that I can view the maps of all the other constituencies at the various district offices in all the constituencies!

I tell EC I don’t have the time to go through the state to sight the maps, so I wish to purchase them from EC.
Sorry, not for sale.

So, before the expiry of the 30-day objection period, I will have to travel through the state to the various district offices to sight and make sense of these maps!

Not just me, but 99 others!

So much for EC’s 'Cekap & Iklas' slogan that stares at you when you go to its website!
Are we, the 52%, going to allow the EC to get away with this?

Or do we strike back?

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