EC chief admits racial redelineation, says ethnic groups can’t be split

Mohd Hashim said that the commission took both geographical and ethnic aspects in consideration when redrawing the boundaries. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Mohd Hashim said that the commission took both geographical and ethnic aspects in consideration when redrawing the boundaries. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, March 29 — The Election Commission (EC) admitted today that its redelineation proposal drew constituency boundaries along racial lines, as it believed ethnic groups should be kept together.

EC chairman Tan Sri Mohd Hashim Abdullah told New Straits Times in an interview that the commission took both geographical and ethnic aspects in consideration when redrawing the boundaries.

“We cannot simply divide an ethnic group in any particular area,” Mohd Hashim was quoted saying.

“Some question why we ‘take’ this area. These people see it only from a location aspect, but we have to consider the ethnic breakdown. We cannot put half of the community in one constituency and the other half in another. As best as we can, we try to keep them together. Redelination is made in voters’ interest,” he added.

Polls watchdog Tindak Malaysia told Malay Mail that the EC’s redelineation report, which was approved in Dewan Rakyat yesterday, would increase ethnic segregation, citing Perak as an example.

Tindak Malaysia mapping adviser Danesh Prakash Chacko said Chinese voters were packed in Pakatan Harapan seats, while Indian voters were placed in marginal Barisan Nasional (BN) areas.

BN component parties MCA, Gerakan and MIC — which represent the Chinese and Indian communities — have previously disagreed with the delimitation exercise, saying the demarcation of constituencies according to racial lines could lead to race-based government policies and affect interracial relations.

Gerakan president Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong said in September 2016 that his party objected against the redelineation exercise because it appeared to favour incumbent DAP lawmakers.

In a parliamentary speech by Serdang MP Ong Kian Ming from the DAP yesterday, he cited a few federal constituencies that would see mixed seats become Malay-majority under the redelineation proposal, such as Lumut from 51 per cent Malay, 35 per cent Chinese, and 12 per cent Indian to 71 per cent Malay, 16 per cent Chinese and 12 per cent Indian.