Prepare for chaos after Malaysia's new redelineation report is out: Sin Chew Daily columnist

Dewan Rakyat Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia has barred the lawmakers from making the election commission's constituency redelineation report public before the prime minister personally tables the motion on March 28, 2018.
Dewan Rakyat Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia has barred the lawmakers from making the election commission's constituency redelineation report public before the prime minister personally tables the motion on March 28, 2018. PHOTO: SIN CHEW DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

In his commentary, the writer mulls over the likely consequences of the new redelineation report being tabled in the lower house of Parliament tomorrow (Wednesday).

KUALA LUMPUR (SIN CHEW DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Finally the election commission's constituency redelineation report is released, but Dewan Rakyat Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia has barred the lawmakers from making its content public before the prime minister personally tables the motion in Dewan Rakyat, the lower house of Parliament, on March 28.

The report is expected to be passed on the very same day, giving the public practically no time to respond. As such, the Speaker's "ban" is a serious violation of the principle of democratic transparency.

The redelineation exercise is invariably Barisan Nasional's (BN's) most potent "weapon" to ensure electoral victory. Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid has said that following the redelineation, BN has very good chances of recapturing several parliamentary and state seats in Selangor.

What gives the redelineation so much power that keeps the ruling coalition flushed with confidence?

Ong Kian Ming, Democratic Action Party's (DAP's) MP for Serdang, believes that Selangor will very likely adopt the election commission's first redelineation proposal that will further widen the gap between the numbers of voters in individual constituencies, severely hurting crippling one-man-one-vote principle and could potentially result in a change of state administration.

Based on the first redelineation proposal, the seven parliamentary seats held by the opposition - Subang, PJ Utara, Serdang, Klang, PJ Selatan, Kota Raja and Gombak - will see the numbers of their voters drastically increased.

Meanwhile the total number of voters in Umno's seats - Sungai Besar, Tanjung Karang and Sabak Bernam - will only be a quarter of the opposition's.

At the same time, the number of state constituencies with 60-79.9 per cent Malay voters will more than double from 13 to 27, while those with under 20 per cent Malay voters will go up to eight, from five.

Similarly, constituencies with 60-79.9 per cent Chinese voters will increase from three to eight and those with under 20 per cent Chinese voters up from 18 to 26 seats.

If the first proposal is eventually adopted, it means the hearing for the second redelineation proposal has been in vain. But, as the first proposal is more favourable to the BN than the second one, BN is willing to hold back the election until the Parliament has adopted the report.

The opposition and NGOs are still working very hard to try to block the report through legal means. The court must make a verdict within days, or it will be an act of contempt if the Parliament is debating the bill while the court is still hearing the case.

To BN, the election must be held very soon and any further delay beyond the Muslim fasting month which will start on May 16, will significantly increase its risks, as Anwar Ibrahim will be released soon.

BN has several other missions to be completed before the election can be called, i.e. getting the supplementary supply bill passed on March 26 and 27 while Dewan Negara sitting is brought forward to March 26, meaning the supplementary supply bill can be submitted to the Dewan Negara as soon as it is passed.

If the bill for additional RM7.1 billion allocation is not passed, 16 government departments and institutions will be short of cash, and the EC will not have the fund to hold the general elections.

Even if the anti-fake news bill is also tabled in the Parliament, it may be too late to be effectively applied before GE14.

 
 

The next two weeks will be the most crucial moments, and BN leaders must make sure Dewan Rakyat will pass the redelineation report so that the Parliament can be dissolved in the first week of April.

Rushing everything in the last minute will give BN very little time to settle any differences that may arise among the component parties as a consequence of the redelineation.

Rushing through the redelineation report without unveiling the details earlier may result in many voters unsure of their polling stations.

Moreover, as DAP's MP for Sandakan Stephen Wong has said, while the Sabah state assembly has approved the addition of 13 state assembly seats, the redelineation report does not include the state of Sabah, meaning the state will still have 60 seats, and this may spark a constitutional crisis.

GE14 may go down the nation's electoral history as the one with the most number of complaints, including those about locations of poling stations and constitutional issues, among others.

Much time has been spent on the preparation for the election, but with so many things packed within such a short time, commotion and controversies may surface.

The writer comments regularly on Malaysian affairs. Sin Chew Daily is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 23 news media entities.