ERC moots dual voting system

ERC Chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman (left) speaks during a press conference at Malaysian Institute of Intergrity.

KUALA LUMPUR: The first-past-the-post (FPTP) system should be retained for the state seats while the parliamentary seats would be decided by the party-list proportional representation (PR) system to ensure justice on the ground, said Electoral Reform Committee (ERC) chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman.

He also mooted for more independence for those handling the elections and more effort by the government to ensure the survival of smaller political parties.

Among the suggestions was a redelineation exercise by a completely independent committee.

Abdul Rashid said this after the ERC met representatives of all the political parties yesterday.

All parties turned up at the meeting, except for Umno that had wanted a private meeting with the ERC.

“Among the things raised by the political party representatives was the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and the agreement where the seats have to be divided into three – the peninsula, Sabah and Sarawak, ” said Abdul Rashid.

He said they did not use the proportional representation system in the past as they were waiting for more voters to be registered.

However, Sarawak had seen an increase in voters in recent years, he said.

“Although many countries practise the PR system, at present, FPTP serves our constituents very well, as our society needs to have direct interaction with their elected representatives in their daily lives.

“If we change it to the PR system, constituents will choose a party and not the candidate, and the party will then decide on who will be the elected representative.”

Abdul Rashid further said that FPTP had to be retained for the state seats as the number was smaller and the people had a more tight-knit relationship with their elected representatives.

“We would like to suggest that the proportional representation be used at the parliamentary seats. We may have to change the number of seats (in Dewan Rakyat).

“Under PR, the party which gets the highest total number of votes forms the government.

“If Party A gets 60% of the total votes nationwide, it gets 60% of the seats in Parliament. It does not mean voting in the candidate but the party. The party will be the one governing.

“This will ensure justice and survival for smaller political parties, with a minimum total vote to ensure a party gets a seat in Dewan Rakyat.

“For example, a party that gets 5% of the votes will get one seat, ” said Abdul Rashid.

Under elections using the PR system, the basic principle is that all voters deserve the right to fair representation and that all political groups deserve to be represented in the legislatures in proportion to their strength in the electorate.

Party-list voting systems are by far the most common form of proportional representation.

Over 80% of the PR systems used worldwide are some form of party-list voting. This system is widely used in European democracies and in many newly democratised countries such as South Africa.

On the next redelienation exercise, Abdul Rashid said that there should be a newly formed Electoral Boundary Committee.

“This will free EC from allegations that the redelineation was done to favour certain political parties. This is done in developed democracies, ” said Abdul Rashid.

“Whatever the decision, electoral borders will be based on demographics, geography and culture.”

He also suggested the state allocate a budget for political party funding, to enable the survival of smaller parties without funds.

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