PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has tabled the Election Commission's redelineation report in Parliament, in which 98 out of 165 parliamentary seats in Peninsular Malaysia will undergo changes of some sort.
These changes range from the minor, such as a name change involving one vowel, to major ones where the boundaries of the seat have been redrawn to double its original size.
Of the states listed in the report tabled on Wednesday, only seats in Perlis and Putrajaya will not see any changes of any sort.
Johor, Selangor and Perak are the most affected, with 19, 18 and 16 parliamentary seats respectively seeing changes of some kind.
The numbers in this report were based on the electoral roll that was gazetted by the Election Commission in May 2016.
According to analysts from electoral reform pressure groups, Selangor will see the most significant changes and this could result in very close fights in the state.
Selangor has five name changes involving parliamentary seats and nine state seats which will have their names changed.
The seats that will get new names are Bangi (P102), Subang (P104), Petaling Jaya (P105), Damansara (P106) and Sungai Buloh (P107).
These seats were previously known as Serdang, Kelana Jaya, Petaling Jaya Selatan, Petaling Jaya Utara and Subang respectively.
While the Sungai Buloh seat will see a reduction of voters from 128,000 to 73,000, the other seats will see an increase.
Most significantly, the proposed Damansara seat will now have approximately 150,439 voters, making it the parliamentary seat with the largest number of voters.
Previously, the Petaling Jaya Utara seat had 85,400 voters with its DAP parliamentarian Tony Pua winning it by a majority of about 44,000 votes.
This is about four times the number of voters in Sabak Bernam, another parliamentary seat in Selangor, which has about 37,126 voters and about nine times the 17,000 voters in the Putrajaya seat.
Activist Wong Chin Huat, who has a doctorate in electoral systems from the University of Essex, said the average size of the parliamentary seats won by Barisan Nasional in the 2013 general election was about 48,000 voters while for the Opposition it was 79,000 voters.
The proposed Sungai Buloh (P107) seat meanwhile spans four local authorities: Selayang, Kuala Selangor, Petaling Jaya and Shah Alam.
In the Kota Melaka seat (P138), an additional 28,000 voters have been moved from the nearby Hang Tuah Jaya (P137) seat.
This seat, which was known as Bukit Katil in the last election, will see the number of voters reduced from 99,400 to 80,800.
PKR won the seat in 2013, but would have lost with the redrawn boundaries.
Analysts contend that the redrawn boundaries would have seen the Opposition lose the Lumut and Bukit Gantang seats in Perak as well as Lembah Pantai in Kuala Lumpur, among others.
According to Wong, if these new electoral boundary changes were used in the last election, Barisan Nasional would have won an additional eight parliamentary seats in Peninsular Malaysia.
In the last election, Barisan won 85 seats to the Opposition's 80 seats in Peninsular Malaysia. If the new boundaries drawn up had been used in 2013, Barisan would have won 93 seats while the Opposition would have won 72 seats.
“Democracy is the process where voters choose politicians, but gerrymandering is the process of politicians choosing voters,” declared Wong.
Tindak Malaysia mapping advisor Danesh Prakash Chacko, however, said that new electoral boundaries do not automatically mean victory for Barisan in the coming election as voter preferences are changing all the time.
The motion, once debated and passed with a simple majority in Parliament, will be gazetted upon receiving Royal assent.
The 12 newly named parliamentary seats are:
P009 – Alor Setar (Alor Star)
P075 – Bagan Datuk (Bagan Datok)
P076 – Teluk Intan (Telok Intan)
P102 – Bangi (Serdang)
P104 – Subang (Kelana Jaya)
P105 – Petaling Jaya (Petaling Jaya Selatan)
P106 – Damansara (Petaling Jaya Utara)
P107 – Sungai Buloh (Subang)
P132 – Port Dickson (Telok Kemang)
P137 – Hang Tuah Jaya (Bukit Katil)
P162 – Iskandar Puteri (Gelang Patah)
P167 – Tanjung Piai (Tanjong Piai)