KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 15 — The Election Commission's (EC) move to rename and resize several federal and state constituencies is coming under intense criticism from affected lawmakers, who said the move would confuse voters.
DAP lawmaker Teresa Kok, who has been MP for Seputeh since Election 1999, was irate to learn that her constituency will be renamed Sri Petaling.
“I am extremely unhappy with the change of name from Seputeh to Sri Petaling, because the people and voters are used to the name of the constituency, Seputeh, all this while,” she told Malay Mail Online when contacted today.
She also questioned the move to carve out Taman Desa from the constituency and replace its voters with those from Bukit Jalil, and demanded the EC explain the rationale for the shift.
Kok also blamed the population growth in the area — among reasons previously cited for the need to redraw electoral lines — on poor urban planning on the part of the federal government.
The lawmaker said indiscriminate approvals for new developments by the Federal Territories Ministry and the Kuala Lumpur City Hall had turned what was once a “nice residential area” in Sri Petaling into an overpopulated and congested area.
“I share the pain of the people in Sri Petaling and I am very unhappy to have my constituency named under such poorly planned area,” she stressed.
PKR's Wong Chen, whose current Kelana Jaya federal seat will be renamed Subang, alleged that the redelineation was intended to favour the Barisan Nasional government.
Wong Chen also demanded that the EC give a detailed explanation on the name changes before the objection period of a month is over, noting that the name Kelana Jaya would be completely removed under the move.
“I'm not favourable to this move at all. This is generally very disruptive and favours the ruling party in one way or rather,” he told Malay Mail Online when contacted today.
Another affected lawmaker, DAP's Ong Kian Ming who will go from Serdang MP to the representative for Bangi under the change, similarly criticised the complete removal of his original seat's name.
“Serdang is a well known area to residents in Selangor and KL and many residential areas and landmarks have the name Serdang in them,” he told Malay Mail Online when contacted today.
In its latest redelineation exercise, the EC is seeking to change the names of 12 parliamentary seats and 34 state constituencies nationwide ahead of the next general elections due in 2018.
In an 18-page notice published in national daily New Straits Times today, the EC said the changes only affected the names of the seats and not the number of seats, whether federal or state, in the country.
The federal seats affected include one Kedah, three seats in Perak, five in Selangor, one in the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, one in Negri Sembilan and one in Johor.
The five affected parliamentary seats in Selangor and the sole Kuala Lumpur seat are currently held by the opposition.
Opposition MPs have noted, however, that the exercise also involves a massive transferring of voters, with Petaling Jaya Utara — that will be renamed Damansara — going from around 85,000 voters from 2013 to over 150,000 voters under the change.
Comparatively, Putrajaya that is held by Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Mansor has around 18,000 voters or just 12 per cent of what the Damansara seat would have.