Thursday, August 13, 2015

Sarawak would be opposition led if not for gerrymandering

12 Aug 2015 02:00 PM

 by Edgar Ong
SARAWAK FOCUS: The announcement by Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem in relation to the newly created 11 seats for the next state elections would in effect allow his party, Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), to form the next Sarawak government if it so wishes. 
On Aug 10, Adenan had said that with the addition of the newly created 11 seats – after the Appeals Court had ruled on the Election Commission’s appeal – his own party PBB would take five seats. 
This will mean that at the current 35 seats (which political analysts concede are as safe as can be) plus these five additional ones, PBB will have a total of 40 seats, which will be only two seats short of the magical simple majority of 42 in a newly enlarged 82 seat Sarawak state assembly.
These two “additional” PBB seats can easily be procured through wheeling and dealing with any of the other successful candidates from one of the two deeply fragmented parties, SUPP (Sarawak United People's Party) or SPDP (Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party).  
PRS (Parti Rakyat Sarawak) has stood firm and is rather united with its eight traditional seats. 
In the event of any so called ‘independents’ winning, it would be even easier for PBB to tempt them. 
I did a quick analysis and review of what happened at the Sarawak State elections in 2011 and the results turned up a few amazing facts among the figures, showing the extent of how gerrymandering the seats had and will forever influence the outcome of any election to be held now and in the future.  
For a total of 71 seats, 672,667 citizens had cast their votes; for an average seat count of 9,474 votes for one state constituency, in theory.
Three parties garnered votes of less than the average to win their contested seats.
There is PRS, whose average vote count for each of their eight seats won was only 4,390 votes and then SPDP, who collected an average of only 5,449 votes for each of their six seats won. 
PBB, despite winning the most number of seats at 35, had only managed to garner an average of 5,508 votes for each of their seats.  
Yet between these three top parties, who collectively won 49 seats and could in theory already form the government, they had a total of 260,598 votes which represented only 38.7 per cent of the total votes cast. 
Why are Bersih, non-governmental organisations and other critics screaming their heads off about gerrymandering on the re-delineated new constituencies then?
It gets worse. 
Based on the 2011 state elections, PKR had secured the third largest bloc of votes, after PBB and DAP, but yet they only managed to win three seats in total. 
Their average seat count was the highest at 39,033 for one single seat. 
SUPP came up second on seat average with 18,630 votes for each of their six seats won; then only DAP with a 11,237-vote average for their 12 seats.  
In a fair and just fight for the popular vote and if all things being equal, this is how they should have stacked up with the number of total votes garnered by the party and the number of seats won. (see chart)  
(*FYI  the totals do not add up to total votes cast nor seats contested for.)(*FYI the totals do not add up to total votes cast nor seats contested for.)
Judging from this exercise alone, if not for the gerrymandering, and if based on what the ideal and true results of the election should have been, it is very obvious that the opposition alliance of PKR and DAP would have triumphed on 26 seats and could easily have invited either SUPP or PBB to form the government!
That’s what is putting the fear of the devil in BN at the federal level, and why they have coerced the Election Commission to quickly go about and ensure another round of generating 11 more seats that are totally gerrymandered to suit their profiling purposes. 
Sarawakians are now faced with the reality of seeing PBB on its own govern the state for the foreseeable future.
They have members belonging to all the main races except for one, and I don’t see any hindrances ahead for them to forego that tokenism – after all, thus far it has only been window dressing.
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