Friday, January 16, 2015

BN party calls EC's new maps 'discriminatory'

4:00PM Jan 16, 2015

A BN component party has described the Election Commission's (EC) redelineation of Sarawak state constituencies as discriminatory against certain ethnic groups.

Sarawak United People's Party (SUPP) secretary-general Sebastian Ting Chiew Yew (left) said under the new redelineation, Chinese-majority seats comprise substantially larger voter population compared to other ethnic groups.

"The figures show that except for one seat, all the 13 seats with more than 20,000 voters are Chinese-majority seats.

"In fact all the Chinese-majority seats have more than the average number of voters. This paints the picture that the system discriminates against this community.

"This leads to resentment by this community as they see this as unfair," he said in a statement yesterday.

Ting said the large difference in voters between state seats in Sarawak goes against the principle of ‘one man one vote’ and denies citizens a fair share in the decision making process.

He lamented the constitutional amendment in 1973 removing the limit difference between constituencies, which he said was the legalisation of "full freedom for gerrymandering".

"Effectively, urban voters have been greatly dis-enfranchised, as their votes are equivalent less than 20 percent of the rural man’s vote.

"Such arrangement gives a very heavy weightage to rural voters, which consists a make-up mainly of certain ethnic communities.

"Rural areas have the lowest number of voters. Consequently, political power in Sarawak rest with the rural seats and these communities," he said.

Ting said this perception of discrimination has to be addressed.

"It is only on this principle of fairness that lies the foundation of the whole community that is progressive and moderate.

"We are fully committed to the politics of reasoning and moderate principle. Otherwise, our proclamation as being a moderate party runs hollow," he said.

As such, Ting proposed the imbalances to be reversed, beginning with an amendment to the current redelineation proposal.

"It is proposed that seats that have more than 20,000 voters be re-delineated to provide for new seats or shared with other seats where the number of voters per seat is not more than 20,000," he said.

'Cap the maximum number'

Furthermore, he said the maximum number of voters in a seat should be capped at 20,000.

At present, the highest number of voters is in N54 Pelawan with 31,388 voters while the seat with the least number of voters at 6,340 is the newly created N26 Gedong.

Ting acknowledge that certain rural and less accessible area need more representation but questioned the huge imbalance.

"For example, the size of the new seat N24 Gedong (6,340) is about the size of the new seat N13 Batu Kitang (20,107).

"Yet, the voters of these seats have vastly different rights. A voter of Gedong has one vote but his or her counterpart at Batu Kitang effectively has only 20 percent of the Gedong’s vote," he said.

Ting questioned the relevance of huge rural weightage, pointing out that development funding does not necessarily have to be according to the number of constituencies and more rural folks are also moving to urban areas.

"By giving urban voters more representatives, who will most likely be more educated and trained, it will directly benefit the whole state.

"The quality of elected representatives will definitely improve," he said.
~ Malaysiakini

No comments: