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Bersih has called on state governments to take a proactive approach towards addressing electoral boundaries issues before the 15th general election.
During a virtual event today, the electoral watchdog recommended the Penang government to add three state seats, and one each in Selangor and Negeri Sembilan.
“State governments should also amend their constitution to ensure each state seat stays within the boundaries of a local government area and district.
“No state seat should spill over these boundaries unless there is a need for equal allocation,” political scientist Wong Chin Huat said after highlighting multiple state seats in Selangor with boundary issues.
Wong is the main speaker at the event today where he talked about his latest study report, commissioned by Bersih, on the severe malapportionment and gerrymandering in Penang as well as Selangor and Negeri Sembilan.
He also recommended another amendment to the constitutions of those three states, that is to stipulate the requirement to have equal numbers of voters in each state seat.
The report Wong presented today showed a severe gap between voter population in urban and rural seats, and he warned that malapportionment will become even more serious when Undi18 and automatic voter registration are implemented.
“How would you feel when the value of your vote is 1/5 of the others?” he asked, pointing out that the youths risked being disenfranchised as most of them reside in urban areas, where voter population disparity between their constituency and those in rural areas are high.
“Not just the youths, but the whole society is at a disadvantage.
“If people lose trust in the political system, they not only won’t contribute positively to it, but instead they may take radical measures in order to change their fate,” Wong cautioned.
He said Penang, Selangor, and Negeri Sembilan were highlighted because they have the most severe cases of electoral boundaries problems.
“In Penang and Selangor, the ruling coalition controls two-thirds majority in the state legislative assembly.
“They can take action to address the problem with the power they have now,” he added.
Meanwhile, Wong also welcomed other state governments to engage with Bersih to address their electoral boundary issues.
In a statement released afterward, Bersih criticised the Election Commission (EC) for failing to rectify the issues during the last few rounds of constituency delimitation exercises, thus imploring state governments to now take the lead instead.
“It (the EC) has failed to respond to important socio-demographic changes over the years due to migration and urbanisation.
“Such trends, if not addressed soon, will further undermine the principle of one voter one vote and the election results will be distorted.
“Reform-minded state governments must be proactive to take the lead in this reform if the federal government is unwilling to do so,” the coalition said.