DAP MP: Gerrymandering protected Umno, not Malays

According to Ong, some of the seats in the three states - such as Tumpat (69,948 voters), Kuala Terengganu (65,900), Kuala Kedah (73,942), and Baling (72,387) already have a high number of voters but no seats were added despite that. – Picture by Choo Choy May
According to Ong, some of the seats in the three states - such as Tumpat (69,948 voters), Kuala Terengganu (65,900), Kuala Kedah (73,942), and Baling (72,387) already have a high number of voters but no seats were added despite that. – Picture by Choo Choy May

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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 28 — After an admission of gerrymandering by a former Election Commission (EC) chief, a DAP MP today claimed that past re-delineation exercises were only aimed at protecting the interests of the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) rather than the Malay community.

According to Serdang MP Dr Ong Kian Ming, the EC would have added more seats in Malay-majority states Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu if it really was protecting the Malay interest as claimed by Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman earlier this week.

“If Tan Sri Abdul Rashid wanted to maintain Malay political dominance, why was it that no parliamentary seats were added to the Malay majority states of Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu in the 2003 delineation exercise?,” Ong said in a statement here.

“The reason for the non-addition of parliament seats in these three states is simple ...The BN was fearful that if more seats were added in these states, it would benefit the opposition, specifically PAS.”

According to Ong, some of the seats in the three states - such as Tumpat (69,948 voters), Kuala Terengganu (65,900), Kuala Kedah (73,942), and Baling (72,387) already have a high number of voters but no seats were added despite that.

However, opposition party PAS had performed exceptionally well in the 1999 general elections in those three states, and the re-delineation exercise in 2003 was done so to prevent PAS from capturing more seats, Ong alleged.

As part of the IKMAS (Institut Kajian Malaysia dan Antarabangsa) study team from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia observing the process, Ong related that he remembered Abdul Rashid admitting of receiving instructions from then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir to create more ethnically “mixed” seats, rather than adding more seats in the three states.

The assumption behind the instructions, Ong claimed, was that Barisan Nasional would have captured them easily compared to PAS.

“Abdul Rashid was clearly taking instructions from this political masters in the BN during the 2003 delineation exercise,” the DAP MP added.

“The exercise was done in order to increase the political dominance of BN / UMNO and not to increase Malay political dominance per se.”

Ong’s comments today comes following an admission by Tan Sri Abdul Rashid that the three redelineation exercises during his term had ensured the continued political dominance of the Malays, even as the retired election chief insisted the redrawing of electoral boundaries were carried out in the “proper way”.

Rashid was reported to have made the comments after joining Malay rights group Perkasa, during the group’s Federal Territory annual general meeting earlier this week.

Yesterday, elections watchdog Bersih 2.0 had urged the EC to call off its re-delineation exercise as it cast further doubt on the looming revision that has been stained by allegations of gerrymandering.

Bersih 2.0 also repeated its call for the EC clean the electoral rolls and renew its members, claiming the current members of partisan, unethical, and non-independent.

The EC — which has been accused of gerrymandering to give more weight to rural constituencies, where the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) typically enjoys strong support — has said that it will begin redrawing constituency lines at the end of the year.

Polls watchdog Bersih, however, warned the EC last September that a repeat of the massive street rallies for electoral reforms was “inevitable” if the electoral roll is not cleared of irregularities. 

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