‘Proposed electoral boundaries likely to save Umno from losing power’


KUALA LUMPUR: A former deputy minister claimed that the Umno-led Barisan Nasional (BN) has remained in power as the election system is tilted in its favour.

Saifuddin Abdullah said BN had in the past used its majority in Parliament to carry out malapportionment and gerrymandering in drawing constituencies.

To make matters worse, he said public confidence in the Election Commission (EC) was on the decline as it refused to engage the stakeholders at every stage of the electoral process.

Saifuddin said the impact of such an exercise was seen in the redrawing of boundaries in Sarawak last year, where the number of seats was increased from 71 to 82.

He said the people filed a legal suit to challenge the exercise, but unfortunately their legal journey ended when the Federal Court dismissed the application for leave.

“BN won with a landslide and the redelineation was seen to be a factor in the electoral outcome in many seats,” he said in the foreward written for a book titled “The end of Umno? Essays on Malaysia’s Dominant Party”.

The book, a collection of political essays by renown academicians, was launched by Umno veteran and Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah at a private club here.

Saifuddin said what was equally worrying was that 118,774 voters had been moved to different states and parliamentary constituencies on the basis of “locality correction”.

“The number of voters moved are large enough to affect the outcome of an (general) election,” said Saifuddin, a former Umno Supreme Council member, who left the party to join PKR last year.

He said such a “locality correction” violated the spirit of the Constitution because in effect, they were tantamount to a redelineation exercise.

Saifuddin, who is a lawyer by training, said any redelineation required the approval of Parliament, but this “redelineation” was done through the backdoor.

“It is bad for democracy. And this may be the single most important factor that will save Umno/BN in GE14,” he said.

The EC has currently put forward a redelineation proposal for Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah, but it has received 836 objections from the Selangor government, local authorities and groups of at least 100 voters.

Saifuddin said the other two factors that kept Umno in power were the party’s practice of race and religious politics, and the development of the fear culture among the people.

He said as Umno was not addressing issues, it was fast becoming a party “not for tomorrow”.