PETALING JAYA: More than a hundred objections – probably the largest number ever – have been filed against the Election Commission’s controversial redelineation of state and parliament seats ahead of the next general election.
State governments, local authorities and groups of 100 or more voters – including those organised by political parties – are allowed to submit objections. The deadline for doing so was yesterday.
The EC’s proposal to alter the boundaries in 128 of the 222 Parliament seats has drawn flak from parties and voters who claim the move strengthens mono ethnic majority seats while reducing ethnically mixed seats, thus further sharpening racial polarisation.
It has also been criticised for widening the size gap between seats instead of narrowing them.
The numbers of objections was described by former EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rahid Abdul Rahman as possibly the biggest in a redelineation exercise, which by law can only be done once every eight years.
The political parties involved in the objections include MCA, Gerakan, DAP, PAS, PKR and Amanah.
Umno officials were tight-lipped about the number of objections filed, although Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, who is party and Barisan Nasional secretary-general, had said the ruling coalition was not happy with 30% of the EC’s proposed redelineation.
MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said his party alone had filed more than 30 objections against the EC’s plan.
He said Tengku Adnan had agreed with MCA’s submissions against the EC redelineation proposal.
Gerakan secretary-general Datuk Liang Tack Meng declined to state the number of objections filed by his party but said they were done in the respective states.
“Our objections are made based on certain principles that need to be followed under the 13th Schedule of the Federal Constitution,” he said, referring to provisions in the Constitution regarding the procedures in the delimitation of constituencies.
No new parliament or state seats have been proposed except for Sabah, where the EC aims to form 13 new state seats.
Under the EC proposal, the top three states that will see many changes are Johor (21 parliament seats will be affected), followed by Selangor (18) and Perak (17).
With the deadline to file objections over, the EC will hold a local inquiry to hear all objections which meet the conditions.
The dates for the inquiry have yet to be announced.
If the commission agrees with any of the objections filed, it will amend its proposal and put it up for public display, during which further objections, if any, can be submitted.
The commission will then hold a second local inquiry, after which it will submit its final recommendations to the Prime Minister.
The proposal can then be tabled in the Dewan Rakyat, with approval requiring a simple majority.
PKR election director Nurul Izzah Anwar said 19 objections were filed in Kedah, Perak, Negri Sembilan, Malacca and Johor.
PAS election director Datuk Mustafa Ali said his party submitted objections for the proposed redelineation in every state with the exception of Perlis, Penang, Negri Sembilan and Malacca.
In Johor, political parties from Barisan Nasional and opposition have sent in more than a dozen objections to the EC.
Two MCA divisions, namely Kluang and Bakri, have sent in objections for the state seats of Mengkibol and Bentayan.
Johor PKR deputy chief Jimmy Puah Wee Tse said PKR delivered at least four objections to the EC.
Selangor MCA submitted objections on several parliament seats including Puchong, Petaling Jaya Utara, Serdang, Hulu Langat, Klang and Kuala Langat.
The state DAP submitted more than 50 objections for three parliament seats (Serdang, Petaling Jaya Utara and Petaling Jaya Selatan) and seven state seats (Subang Jaya, Dusun Tua, Sungai Pinang, Teratai, Kuala Kubu Baharu, Damansara Utama and Kampung Tunku).
In Perak, Pakatan Harapan submitted over 30 objections to the EC including for the Ipoh Timur and Ipoh Barat parliamentary constituencies as well as all of the 18 state seats held by DAP.
It is learnt that Perak MCA and Umno have also submitted objections to the EC.
In Penang, DAP MP Zairil Khir Johari submitted an objection involving his Bukit Bendera seat, in which Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s Air Putih state assembly constituency is located.
Terengganu PAS election director Ariffin Deraman said the state PAS submitted 18 objections.
Pahang DAP secretary Lee Chin Chen said his party filed an objection for the Sabai state seat in the Bentong parliamentary constituency.
In Negri Sembilan, parties from both sides filed objections on 11 state seats located in the parliamentary seats of Seremban, Rembau, Teluk Kemang, Rasah and Tampin.
Assoc Prof Dr Sivamurugan Pandian of Universiti Sains Malaysia’s School of Social Sciences said the current re-delineation exercise pattern contradicted the exercise that was carried out in 2003 where many racially mixed constituencies were created.
He said the EC should convince the public of its rationale for determining the borders in order to not jeopardise its integrity.
“This is not something which is done every year and the borders are going to remain for the next 10 years or so,” he said.