Change electoral system to ensure minority representation, say groups

Tawfik Ismail, a founding member of ‘third force’ Maju, says parties like Umno, MCA and MIC no longer represent the same idealism they did decades ago.

PETALING JAYA: Some analysts and politicians have called for a mix of different electoral systems that could help voters get better representation in Parliament and state assemblies.

Lamenting how the present first-past-the-post (FPTP) system allows for the power to be concentrated with the leader of the winning party, they propose introducing a mixed-member proportional (MMP) electoral system.

Penang Institute senior analyst Yeong Pey Jung said the MMP system practised in New Zealand and Germany allows for a proportional system as voters have two votes – a party votes to represent voters in Parliament and an electorate vote to choose an MP.

Parties with a bigger share of the party vote also get more seats in Parliament.

Yeong Pey Jung

She said many minority groups ranging from women, Orang Asli and others do not get representation due to the present FPTP system where voters cast their vote for a candidate of their choice, and the candidate who receives the most votes wins.

She was speaking at a forum organised by Bersih 2.0 on “Does a Third Political Force Stand A Chance under The First-Past-The-Post Election System?”.

Yeong said women’s participation in politics is low as it is still culturally entrenched to choose a male over a female.

But with the MMP system, this would be rectified as the people get to vote for the candidate representing them.

Bersih 2.0 chairperson Thomas Fann, who was moderating the forum, said if Malaysia retains the FPTP electoral system, smaller groups and minorities will continue to face problems in being represented in Parliament.

Thomas Fann

He said there have been calls to retain the FPTP system at the state assembly level and instead use the MMP system at the parliamentary level so that youths, women, socialist and other movements stand a chance to be represented.

Lawyer Lim Wei Jiet, who is working with former youth and sports minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman to set up a youth-based party, said youths need to be heard.

“The 15- to 39-year olds are more than 40% of the population but 80% of politicians are above 60.

“Is that a representation of Malaysia? No. If there is no representation, the voices of youths will not be heard,” Lim said.

Tawfik Ismail, who is with Malaysian Action for Justice and Unity (Maju), said a lot of people are fed up with politicians especially after the sudden change in government in February.

Lim Wei Jiet

The former Umno MP said a change is needed because after 60 years of BN rule, Malaysia had lost its moral compass with Umno, MCA and MIC no longer representing the same idealism it represented decades ago.

“Maju is hoping to put forward 15 to 20 independent candidates to contest in GE15 and we are in the midst of drawing up a stringent checklist to ensure the candidates are healthy, and of integrity,” he said of the grouping which is popularly being referred to as a “third force” in Malaysian politics.

S Arulchelvan of Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) said PSM had also suggested a mix of MMP and FPTP to allow more representation from minority groups in Parliament.

S Arulchelvan

“Big political parties have the backing of big corporations and this makes it even more difficult for smaller parties and political movements to win,” he said.

Arulchelvam added that after Covid-19, the people are more concerned about better health services and putting food on the table, besides employment and housing issues.

“Voters will have a chance to choose based on real issues, instead of race and religion,” he said, adding that the MMP system allows for a mix of representation from different groups in Parliament.