‘One person, one vote’ does not reflect equality, minister says

According to the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim, the ‘one person, one vote’ legislative is not suitable for Malaysia and does not reflect equality. ― Picture by Choo Choy May
According to the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim, the ‘one person, one vote’ legislative is not suitable for Malaysia and does not reflect equality. ― Picture by Choo Choy May

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KUALA LUMPUR, March 31 ― The principle of equal legislative representation of “one person, one vote” is not suitable for Malaysia unless it is implemented in accordance with the country's multi-racial composition, Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim said today.

The Minister in the Prime Minister's Department told the Dewan Rakyat that the concept recommended by Parliamentary Select Committee of Electoral Reform in 2012 “does not reflect on justice”.

“One Shahidan might be equivalent to one Mahfuz but one Loke might not be same as one Shahidan,” said the minister referring to Pokok Sena PAS MP Datuk Mahfuz Omar and Seremban DAP MP Anthony Loke.

“The concept of one person, one vote must be based on racial breakdown, economic and family background,” said Shahidan.

The minister was responding during Question Time to Loke, who had asked about the implementation of the policy to ensure electoral fairness.

In his response to Shahidan, DAP lawmaker pointed out to the minister that his question had been on the value of each vote and not on which race dominates.

“I don’t think you understand what this means,” said Loke.

The minister fired back at Loke, reminding the latter that he is a PhD holder and that he understands the concept of “one person, one value”.

“I know you are a lecturer and you are very smart but you need two more degrees to compete with me,” Shahidan retorted.

The minister in charge of parliamentary affairs told the House that there are many models of the “one person, one vote” concept that a number of countries have adopted.

The most suitable for Malaysia, however, is the model that uses racial division, he insisted.

“We have several models we can base this on, you may want to follow the Singaporean model or the British model or the American model, African model, Algerian model, Timbuktu model, China model, India model or any other model.

“But the model used in Malaysia is the model where the minority vote is bigger, for instance there are 23 per cent Chinese but they have 40 parliament seats,” said Shahidan.

In Election 2013, Barisan Nasional (BN) retained federal power when it snapped up 133 seats to Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) 89 seats despite losing the popular vote. Of the total number of votes cast, the ruling pact only scored 49 per cent to PR’s 51 per cent.

According to findings by Bersih 2.0’s People’s Tribunal, a panel set up by the polls watchdog to investigate alleged irregularities during the polls, a vote for BN was given 1.6 times the weightage given to a vote for PR.

The panel has proposed to minimise this disparity by amending laws on the criteria that determine the size of urban and rural constituencies.

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