The Asian Voice

What happened to the 'one man one vote' principle? Sin Chew Daily columnist

People protest at a rally organised by election reform group Bersih against a bill to redraw electoral boundaries near Parliament House in Kuala Lumpur on March 28, 2018.
People protest at a rally organised by election reform group Bersih against a bill to redraw electoral boundaries near Parliament House in Kuala Lumpur on March 28, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

In his commentary, the writer says the redelineation exercise will affect the upcoming elections and the country's political future.

KUALA LUMPUR (SIN CHEW DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Many of this world's problems and troubles have been the works of politicians!

For instance, US President Donald Trump has triggered a vicious trade war by slapping punitive tariffs on China, causing also global equity markets to slump, in the end hurting America's economy and own people.

Trump is a well-loaded businessman, and his riches will hardly be dented even if goods prices in America soar and global economy in bad shape.

And this is not the only bad thing the president has done.

He has fired his bureaucrats and cabinet members just because he is not happy with them. Last June, he intended to fire Robert Mueller heading the investigation into the "Russiagate" scandal, but had to call it off after White House lawyers threatened to resign and refused to execute his order.

Hostile news reports were dismissed as fakes, and he even published his own list of fake news award winners on Twitter in January, with NYT on top of the list and CNN another big "winner". He said he wanted to present these awards to the most corrupt and biased mainstream media.

Trump is also allegedly involved in sex scandals and has threatened and gagged the media.

 
 
 

His actions have invariably contravened America's centuries-old foundation of democracy. A powerful democratic country should uphold and pursue freedom, including trade freedom and press freedom.

As a president, more than anyone else he must uphold the laws and the rule-of-law spirit. Unfortunately he has instead abused his public powers to whitewash his own iniquities.

To satiate his personal lust and arrogance and to consolidate his fundamental support base to secure his re-election bid, he has trashed the principles of democracy and social justice.

Cambridge Analytica was recently found to have illegally mined Facebook user data and influenced over 200 elections in countries across the world, including Malaysia. Politicians were behind those moves!

Where there is demand, there will be supply. Large scale data mining would not have been possible if politicians had not resorted to dirty tricks to win the elections.

Cambridge Analytica chief executive Alexander Nix claimed that he had met Trump "many times", and had helped his team conduct all the surveys, data mining and campaign strategy.

As a matter of fact, political leaders across the world have gone to the extremes to keep themselves firmly in power, including abusing the term "fake news" to attack their critics and clamp down on press freedom.

Donald Trump is not the only such politician in this world. Thanks to the emergence of populism, Trump's shadows are seen everywhere under the sun, including Malaysia.

The situation in this country is particularly alarming. We have seen undesirable trends everywhere, including the executive system, electoral system and social values.

We inherited our democracy from the Westminster. The Federal Constitution used to specify an under - 15 per cent difference between the numbers of voters in the largest and smallest of electoral constituencies. This difference was allowed to widen to 50 per cent following the 1962 constitutional amendment, and the requirement was removed completely following another constitutional amendment in 1973.

Without the restriction, the principle of "one man one vote" is effectively dead!

Based on the calculation by local political scientist Wong Chin Huat, if the Election Commission's constituency redelineation report is eventually adopted in the Parliament, Barisan Nasional will only need to win 40 per cent of the popular votes to secure a two-thirds majority in Dewan Rakyat.

The redelineation exercise will not only affect the upcoming general elections, but will also dictate the country's political future. An election that lacks fairness will undermine the basis of social justice.

For so many years our politicians have mastered the art of "you help me, I help you" and generous monetary handout policy in a bid to confound the public of what is morally right and wrong, dragging down our moral standards over time and pulling ourselves further and further away from the benchmarks of a fully developed nation.

When voters are forced to pick the lesser of two evils, the elections will no longer be something we can look forward to.

In its stead, we become fearful, worrying that they will be reduced to a deal for the exchange of individuals' interests, and more so that this country will be hijacked by unscrupulous politicians.

Perhaps we can emulate the Americans by courageously saying "no" to rogue politicians. For example, millions of Americans take to the street to call for strict gun controls, demanding the expulsion of defiant reps.

The crisis in Malaysia stems from our people's gross indifference and their willingness to be exploited by politicians without realising the rapidly approaching dangers.

The writer is a regular commentator 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.