PETALING JAYA: Electoral boundaries must be redrawn to protect the value of the vote of millions of Malaysians living in urban areas, says the electoral watchdog Bersih.
The group’s chairman, Thomas Fann, said the high concentration of people living in big towns and cities would mean urban voters would be further under-represented if constituency boundaries were not redrawn.
Fann said a larger number of young voters had been automatically included in the electoral rolls after amendments to voting laws and because of the migration of youths to seek jobs in the city.
“Young voters are in urban seats that are already too large. Their MPs will have a hard time serving their needs,” he told FMT.
He said Bangi, already the largest parliamentary seat in Malaysia, saw its voter base balloon to over 295,000 from 178,790 at the 2018 general election. The seat will have over 300,000 by the time of the next general election, Fann said.
In contrast, Sabak Bernam, also in Selangor, had only 51,000 voters, giving Bangi six times the number of voters. “This is just the intra-state malapportionment in Selangor alone,” he said.
If Bangi was to be compared to Igan in Sarawak, with 28,000 voters, the ratio would be 10.5:1 – making voters in Igan “worth more than 10 times those in Bangi, and the vote value of a voter in Sabak Bernam almost six times more than those in Bangi”.
Government statistics show that 75% of the population or 24.3 million people lived in urban areas last year, while in 2010, the figure was 70.9% (19.5 million persons).
Fann said federal and state constituencies must be redelineated to comply with the constitutional principle of seats being “approximately equal in the number of electors” as stated in the Federal Constitution.
He called for a reformed and independent EC to carry out an impartial and professional review of constituency boundaries, and for a constitutional amendment so that constituency sizes are bound to within 15% of the state average.