Minister: EC must consider remote, rural voters in Sabah when redrawing borders

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong said that the EC tries to ensure it does not burden rural and remote voters when drawing up new electoral borders. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong said that the EC tries to ensure it does not burden rural and remote voters when drawing up new electoral borders. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, July 17 — The Election Commission (EC) takes in more factors than simply population numbers or density when conducting its redelineation exercises, the Dewan Rakyat was told today.

During the winding up speech on the Bill on redelineation recommendations for Parliamentary and state constituencies in Sabah, de facto law minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong said that the EC also tries to ensure it does not burden rural and remote voters when drawing up new electoral borders.

In his reply to questions from the floor over issues such as gerrymandering and malapportionment, he told the Lower House that the commission must take into consideration in delivering efficient service for the rural and remote population. 

“The EC takes into consideration geographical, topographical and the level of infrastructure service for the rural and remote areas. So the creation of constituencies does not rely solely on the [number of] voters but also on the difficulties faced by rural and remote voters.

“So drawing up the borders based on voters alone for federal and state levels is difficult to implement because there are rural areas where the geography and topography are extremely different between one another.

“There are very remote locations with limited roads and transportation services. Generally, rural and remote areas cover a vast range but has very limited population when compared to the small but dense urban areas and cities,” said Liew.

He pointed out that the Kinabatangan federal constituency only has 25,348 voters but is the same size of Johor at 18,068 square kilometres. 

At the same time, the Sipanggar federal constituency has more than double Kinabatangan at 55,294 voters but is only 317 square kilometres large, while the state’s capital Kota Kinabalu has 53,451 voters in only 26 square kilometres.

It is a similar situation with state seats with the smallest being Luyang in Kota Kinabalu which is only 10 square kilometres large but has 23,992 voters.

Kuamat, which is the largest state seat in Sabah only has 8,217 voters even though it is bigger than Kedah at 10,954 square kilometres.

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