By Karamjit Gill
“Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was criticised for his dictatorial-style leadership and accused of allowing gerrymandering in previous redelineations during his 22 years in power.” – The Straits Times, Singapore
Not long ago in 2012, when Dr Mahathir Mohamad was on the other side of the fence, he said, “Since the days of the British, the urban areas tend to dominate politics and to be better served by the government. To balance this, the poorly serviced rural areas have to be given higher representation in the legislature.”
He added that gerrymandering was not new, and claimed such practices happen even in the US, where states like New Jersey with fewer than five million residents have the same number of senators as California, a state with more than 40 million people.
Gerrymandering, malapportionment, and the misuse of institutional tools are all methods used to manipulate an electoral process. Any form of manipulation is an insult to the essence of an election, whether it is at the level of the government or an organisation.
Renowned Italian politician Niccolo Machiavelli once said that politics has no relation to morals.
Those in power would go to any extent to hold on to it. After all, political dominance is the epitome of power.
The Barisan Nasional (BN)-led federal government has always been accused of “gerrymandering”.
On the opposite spectrum, DAP members often voice disgust at the alleged manipulation of its central executive committee election, alleging that Lim Kit Siang and Lim Guan Eng were the brains behind the exploitation.
PPBM members on the other hand cried foul when Mukhriz Mahathir was elevated to deputy president without an election.
It is ironic, though, that people who allegedly cheat in their respective party elections also slam others for manipulation.
If everything is fair in love and war, judging from the alleged misconduct of the opposition, they would perhaps do the exact same thing if they were the federal government. As Mahathir once said, “Abuse of government authority is not confined only to the ruling party. The opposition is also bent on abusing government authority.”
A paper giving a statistical analysis of the 1999 general election has explained how Mahathir relied on gerrymandering to emerge victorious in the polls. In fact, Mahathir even gerrymandered the party elections when he faced stiff competition from Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and Musa Hitam.
Since the opposition today claims that it was wrong about Mahathir and that he was a good leader, how is gerrymandering under Najib Razak’s governance wrong when the same with Mahathir is forgivable today?
The Mahathir we see today who is constantly contradicting himself is no different from the Mahathir of yesterday. Mahathir himself has admitted that the opposition parties are socialist in nature and has implied that Pakatan Harapan’s unrealistic promises are meant to be broken.
So, is this a changed man or is he a man pretending to change in order to oust Prime Minister Najib Razak?
Karamjit Gill is an FMT reader.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.