In upcoming redelineation, EC seeks to balance unequal-sized election seats

EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof
EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof

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KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 26 — Amid persistent allegations of gerrymandering and unfair distribution of voters, the Election Commission (EC) has said it will seek to split up constituencies to ensure that they only contain a maximum of 100,000 voters.

EC chief Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof cited the Thirteenth Schedule of the Federal Constitution to back up the commission’s upcoming redelineation exercise, where the number of voters in a constituency should not be too high, and hamper elected representatives in carrying out their duties.

“We do it based on the provision in the Constitution, if the number of voters exceed 100,000 people in a Parliamentary constituency, we have to study and reduce,” Abdul Aziz was quoted as saying by Malay daily Utusan Malaysia today.

Aziz also said the review of seat boundaries will be done with weightage given to rural and urban areas, as well as Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia.

“Secondly, the number of voters in each Parliament or state assembly (DUN) must take into account whether that area is urban, suburban or rural.

“The comparison of number of voters has to be done according to the type of area and the comparison is the same between peninsula and Sabah and Sarawak,” he told the Umno-owned paper..

Critics have complained of malapportionment where rural seats sometimes contained fewer voters in comparison to the extremely high number of voters in certain urban seats, but the EC has previously explained that it takes into account the remoteness of rural areas that a elected representative is serving in.

Some rural seats are also said to cover a large area and lack good transportation services, making it difficult for lawmakers to reach out to voters.

According to Aziz, the EC has already recruited officers from the Department of Survey and Mapping for the redelineation exercise as it prepares its report to be presented in Parliament next year

He said the commission will soon receive the money allocated in Budget 2014 to start the exercise.

“From the aspect of administration, the redelineation exercise study has been carried out and we will try to table it at the Parliamentary session next year, we have to do it carefully so that we will not be simply accused,” he said.

But the MPs will have the final say on whether the number of parliamentary and state seats will be increased by carving them up, Aziz said.

He added that a two-third parliamentary majority vote is required for the EC to go on with its redelineation exercise.

After the redelineation exercise is tabled in Parliament, the public will have one month to view the proposal, he said.

Under Article 113 (2) (ii) of the Federal Constitution, there should be at least an eight-year gap in between redelineation exercises.

According to Utusan Malaysia, the last redelineation was carried out 10 years ago in 2003.

Aziz told the paper the EC was unable to redraw boundaries in 2011 as it was preparing for the 13th general election then.

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