Sarawak redelineation exercise seriously stymied

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The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) condemns the Election Commission (EC) for serious flaws in both the proposal and procedure in the constituency redelineation exercise for Sarawak hastily started.

The EC must immediately rectify its errors in displaying incomplete maps and gross malapportionment. As our preliminary response on the exercise, we have five questions and one commendation for the EC.

Why are the maps incomplete?

Bersih 2.0 is shocked that the EC has provided incomplete maps in that polling district boundaries are not shown.

The normal electoral map consists of boundaries of parliamentary and state constituencies as well as polling districts, as in the sample of the Sibu parliamentary constituency map used in the 2013 General Election.

electoralmapsibu

In comparison, the EC has only released a state-wide map for all constituencies this time round (see right).
EC Sarawak delineation maps

Even in the enlarged box B (scale 1: 80,000), the polling districts are not shown.

Sarawak no polling districts boundaries

At the first glance, polling districts are sub-divisions within parliamentary and state constituencies; hence, their disappearance does not affect voters in identifying their location. However, in practice, polling districts are the building blocks of parliamentary and state constituencies; hence, voters can mentally redraw the boundaries by including and excluding polling districts, if they were made visible to them.

By denying the voters the knowledge of polling district boundaries, the EC is undermining the people’s ability to meaningfully evaluate the EC’s recommendation and consider other possible combinations of polling districts. Hence, the EC maliciously violates the demand of Federal Constitution that “regard ought to be had … to the maintenance of local ties,” (italics ours) as per its Thirteenth Schedule, Part 1, Section 2(d).

Without the polling district boundaries, the voters also cannot evaluate whether their polling districts have “administrative facilities” to facilitate voting, as implied by Thirteenth Schedule, Part 1, Section 2(b).

Since such incomplete maps were never used in the past, the EC must answer if such maps denotes a new modus operandi for the entire nation, or it is deliberately discriminating against the Sarawakians.

We fully support the ultimatum posed by Mr Baru Bian, Adun for Bakelalan and Sarawak PKR Chief for the EC to provide detailed constituency-level maps within seven days or be prepared for a judicial review hearing.

Why are the maps not displayed online?

Bersih 2.0 cannot understand why the EC refuses to put all its maps online so that more people including out-of-town voters can assess the quality of the EC’s redelineation proposal and take part in the objection project.

Why does the EC insist on conducting its business in a pre-internet manner?

Why can’t the EC do what Bersih 2.0’s Delineation Action and Research Team (Dart) and Tindak Malaysia have been doing: sharing electoral information online?

Will the inquiries be open to lawyers, media and all members of the public?

Bersih 2.0 reiterates our call for the inquiries, which must be held in the event of valid objections after the one-month objection period, to be open to lawyers, media and all concerned members of the public.

The EC has told political parties in their briefing that every group of objectors is limited to three representatives without legal representation and a session of 30 minutes.

Bersih 2.0 would like to remind the EC that it must act constitutionally in discharging its duty. It should aim to maximise public participation in the redelineation and minimise both malapportionment and gerrymandering.

Bersih 2.0 vows to support legal actions by any citizen who has been unconstitutionally excluded or disadvantaged by the EC.

Why is intra-state malapportionment not reduced?

Bersih 2.0 holds that the entire idea of redelineation is to reduce malapportionment and gerrymandering that have occurred since the last redelineation. On this yardstick, the EC has failed miserably.

The chart below shows that malapportionment of parliamentary constituencies that appeared in the 13th General Election has hardly been reduced in the proposed redelineation. (Between 2013 and 2014, on which the redelineation was based on, the electorate has grown insignificantly by 2.32 per cent and does not invalidate the comparison.)

P195 Bandar Kuching is larger than the state average by 119.11 percentage points; P219 Miri (107.19 per cent) – both are more than twice! They are followed by P212 Sibu (85.51 per cent), P196 Stampin (70.48 per cent), Bintulu (61.79 per cent), Lanang (60.64 per cent) and Petrajaya (45.30 per cent).

Intra-state-malapportionment-Sarawak

The EC has completely ignored the requirement of the 13th Schedule, Part 1, 2(c) where constituencies within the same state are supposed to be “approximately equal” in size, with exceptions given to inland constituencies.

For Bersih 2.0, normal constituencies should not be larger or smaller than the state average by 15 per cent, which was the original standard set in the 1957 Federal Constitution, and the exceptional constituencies should be as far as possible not smaller than the state average by 33 per cent, which was the 1962 constitutional standard.

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While this means some seats like Hulu Rejang or Baram can be much smaller than the state average, there are no grounds for outliers at the higher end, resulting in gross under-representation of urban voters.

Even amongst the inland constituencies, one may ask whether it is justified to have fewer voters in P206 Tanjong Manis (19,025) and P207 Igan (18,082), which are coastal and smaller in geographical spread, than P216 Hulu Rejang (23,637) and P220 Baram (31,476), which are Sarawak’s largest and second largest constituencies in land mass.

Overall, in the EC’s proposal, only six out of Sarawak’s 31 parliamentary constituencies meet the 1957 standard, nine more meet the 1962 standard and the remaining 16 fail even the 1962 standard. (See Appendix 1)

We urge the constituents in the 27 proposed state constituencies that are larger than the state average by 15 per cent to object to their unconstitutional under-representation as a group of 100 or more affected voters in the one-month period ending 4 February.

Similarly, the state constituencies are severely malapportioned. While the average state constituency has 13,526 voters, the following constituencies are more than or nearly twice the average size (percentages show deviation from the state average):

N54 Pelawan 31,388 132.06%
N10 Pending 30,881 128.31%
N51 Bukit Asek 28,908 113.72%
N52 Dudong 28,569 111.22%
N74 Pujut 26,532 96.16%
N75 Senadin 26,257 94.12%
N11 Batu Lintang 24,640 82.17%

Overall, in the EC proposal, only 12 out of Sarawak’s 82 state constituencies meet the 1957 standard, 24 more meet the 1962 standard and the remaining 46 fail even the 1962 standard. (See Appendix 2)

Again, while very small inland constituencies may be justified, outliers at the higher end are absolutely unconstitutional. The voters of the abovementioned constituencies and 20 others that are larger than the state average by 15 per cent should object to their unconstitutional under-representation as a group of 100 or more affected voters in the one-month period ending on 4 February.

intrastate-malapportionment-sarawak-dun

The most telling example of the EC’s deliberate crime of malapportionment is P200 Batang Sadong, a constituency which is 45 minutes away from Kuching and well connected by roads, which has only 20,977 voters, with three state constituencies, the smallest being N26 Gedong (6,340). This is in sharp contrast with P195 Bandar Kuching (78,394 voters) with three state constituencies, the largest of which being N10 Pending (30,881 voters).

How can the EC call 20,977 and 78,394, or 30,881 and 6,340 “approximately equal”?

We call upon the EC to recognise the unconstitutionality of its current proposal and make amends in the inquiry process. Bersih 2.0 is ready to support any disempowered citizens to challenge the EC in the court of law.

Why the haste?

Bersih 2.0 questions why the EC needs to commence the redelineation exercise in such haste while the nation’s attention is still on flood relief.

As the last redelineation exercise for Sarawak was completed within six months, and the Sarawak State Assembly’s term expires only by mid-2016, it should be possible for the redelineation exercise to be completed comfortably ahead of the next state election even if it starts a month or two later.

Is this a deliberate plot of the EC to prevent national attention and maximum public scrutiny on the redelineation exercise in Sarawak?

Bersih 2.0 reiterates our position that must be heeded—the electoral roll must be cleaned before redelineation begins. The findings of the Sabah RCI on immigrants should serve as a constant reminder of how crucial this is.

No seat increase

Bersih 2.0 nevertheless congratulates the EC for acting constitutionally by abiding by the number of parliamentary seats allocated for Sarawak as per Article 46 of the Federal Constitution.

This is the first time that redelineation involves seat increase only at the state level and not at the federal level. It shows the EC does heed the advice from civil society to not usurp the power of the Parliament and state legislatures to decide their sizes.

The EC should bear in mind that if Parliament increases its seats for Sarawak in the near future, the EC will have to conduct another round of the redelineation exercise to implement the seat increase. It cannot simply relocate the state constituencies delineated in this exercise to the new number of parliamentary seats without public participation as per the Thirteenth Schedule of the Federal Constitution.

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Bersih 2.0 calls upon all Malaysians to pressure the EC to make the changes we are recommending as this will not only affect Sarawak for the next 10 years or so, but the same pattern will likely be repeated for redelineation in West Malaysia and Sabah.

The Steering Committee of Bersih 2.0, which comprises:

Chairperson: Maria Chin Abdullah; Deputy Chairperson: Sarajun Hoda Abdul Hassan; Treasurer: Masjaliza Hamzah; national representatives: Prof Madya Dr Abdul Halim bin Yusoff, Farhana binti Abdul Halim, Fadiah Nadwa Fikri and New Sin Yew; vice-chairpersons: Jannie Lasimbang (Sabah), Ahmad b Awang Ali (Sarawak), Abd Halim b Wan Ismail (East Peninsula), Thomas Fann (South Peninsula), Simon Lee Ying Wai (Central Peninsula) and Dato’ Dr Toh Kin Woon (North Peninsula).

7 January 2015

Appendix 1 Malapportionment of Parliamentary Constituencies in Sarawak as per the EC’s initial proposal

No Parliamentary Constituency Electorate Deviation from state average Classification
1 P195 Bandar Kuching 78,394 119.11% above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
2 P219 Miri 74,132 107.19% above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
3 P212 Sibu 66,375 85.51% above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
4 P196 Stampin 60,997 70.48% above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
5 P217 Bintulu 57,887 61.79% above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
6 P211 Lanang 57,477 60.64% above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
7 P194 Petra Jaya 51,987 45.30% above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
8 P198 Puncak Borneo 42,854 19.77% above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
9 P197 Kota Samarahan 39,029 9.08% +-15%, within the 1957 standard
10 P193 Santubong 37,826 5.72% +-15%, within the 1957 standard
11 P208 Sarikei 37,083 3.64% +-15%, within the 1957 standard
12 P199 Serian 34,602 -3.29% +-15%, within the 1957 standard
13 P220 Baram 31,476 -12.03% +-15%, within the 1957 standard
14 P202 Sri Aman 30,443 -14.91% +-15%, within the 1957 standard
15 P218 Sibuti 29,363 -17.93% between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
16 P205 Saratok 28,777 -19.57% between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
17 P215 Kapit 28,555 -20.19% between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
18 P201 Batang Lupar 27,212 -23.94% between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
19 P213 Mukah 27,167 -24.07% between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
20 P214 Selangau 27,071 -24.34% between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
21 P204 Betong 26,807 -25.08% between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
22 P192 Mas Gading 26,171 -26.85% between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
23 P221 Limbang 24,977 -30.19% between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
24 P216 Hulu Rejang 23,637 -33.94% below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
25 P209 Julau 22,932 -35.91% below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
26 P200 Batang Sadong 20,977 -41.37% below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
27 P210 Kanowit 19,862 -44.49% below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
28 P203 Lubok Antu 19,819 -44.61% below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
29 P206 Tanjong Manis 19,025 -46.83% below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
30 P222 Lawas 18,138 -49.31% below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
31 P207 Igan 18,082 -49.46% below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
 

Total Electorate

1,109,134
Average 35,779
Average + 15% 41,145
Average – 15% 30,412
Average – 33% 23,854

 

Appendix 2 Malapportionment of State Constituencies in Sarawak as per the EC’s initial proposal

State Constituency Electorate Deviation from state average Classification
1 N54 Pelawan 31,388 132.06% above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
2 N10 Pending 30,881 128.31% above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
3 N51 Bukit Asek 28,908 113.72% above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
4 N52 Dudong 28,569 111.22% above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
5 N74 Pujut 26,532 96.16% above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
6 N75 Senadin 26,257 94.12% above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
7 N11 Batu Lintang 24,640 82.17% above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
8 N09 Padungan 22,873 69.10% above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
9 N73 Piasau 21,343 57.79% above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
10 N12 Kota Sentosa 21,247 57.08% above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
11 N06 Tupong 20,713 53.13% above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
12 N45 Repok 20,282 49.95% above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
13 N13 Batu Kitang 20,107 48.65% above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
14 N14 Batu Kawah 19,643 45.22% above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
15 N68 Tanjong Batu 19,289 42.61% above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
16 N07 Samariang 17,694 30.81% above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
17 N53 Bawang Assan 17,645 30.45% above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
18 N55 Nangka 17,342 28.21% above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
19 N72 Lambir 17,125 26.61% above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
20 N19 Mambong 16,803 24.23% above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
21 N46 Meradong 16,801 24.21% above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
22 N76 Marudi 16,728 23.67% above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
23 N02 Tasik Biru 16,640 23.02% above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
24 N20 Tarat 16,374 21.06% above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
25 N79 Bukit Kota 16,316 20.63% above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
26 N04 Pantai Damai 16,160 19.47% above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
27 N16 Muara Tuang 15,562 15.05% above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
28 N59 Tamin 14,469 6.97% +-15%, within the 1957 standard
29 N08 Satok 13,580 0.40% +-15%, within the 1957 standard
30 N23 Triboh 13,160 -2.71% +-15%, within the 1957 standard
31 N48 Meluan 13,009 -3.82% +-15%, within the 1957 standard
32 N70 Samalaju 12,927 -4.43% +-15%, within the 1957 standard
33 N67 Jepak 12,873 -4.83% +-15%, within the 1957 standard
34 N69 Kemena 12,798 -5.38% +-15%, within the 1957 standard
35 N17 Stakan 12,761 -5.66% +-15%, within the 1957 standard
36 N60 Kakus 12,602 -6.83% +-15%, within the 1957 standard
37 N05 Demak Laut 12,365 -8.58% +-15%, within the 1957 standard
38 N71 Bekenu 12,238 -9.52% +-15%, within the 1957 standard
39 N39 Krian 11,694 -13.54% +-15%, within the 1957 standard
40 N32 Simanggang 11,366 -15.97% between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
41 N21 Tebedu 11,279 -16.61% between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
42 N82 Bukit Sari 11,051 -18.30% between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
43 N50 Machan 10,932 -19.18% between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
44 N15 Asajaya 10,706 -20.85% between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
45 N63 Selirik 10,560 -21.93% between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
46 N33 Engkilili 10,384 -23.23% between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
47 N22 Kedup 10,163 -24.86% between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
48 N47 Pakan 9,923 -26.64% between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
49 N57 Tellian 9,858 -27.12% between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
50 N30 Balai Ringin 9,811 -27.47% between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
51 N40 Kabong 9,759 -27.85% between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
52 N42 Semop 9,739 -28.00% between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
53 N18 Serembu 9,677 -28.46% between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
54 N29 Beting Maro 9,677 -28.46% between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
55 N62 Katibas 9,601 -29.02% between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
56 N01 Opar 9,531 -29.54% between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
57 N44 Jemoreng 9,528 -29.56% between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
58 N34 Batang Ai 9,435 -30.25% between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
59 N03 Tanjong Datu 9,301 -31.24% between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
60 N35 Saribas 9,296 -31.27% between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
61 N41 Kuala Rajang 9,286 -31.35% between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
62 N31 Bukit Begunan 9,266 -31.49% between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
63 N49 Ngemah 8,930 -33.98% between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
64 N36 Layar 8,835 -34.68% below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
65 N27 Sebuyau 8,804 -34.91% below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
66 N58 Balingian 8,773 -35.14% below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
67 N64 Baleh 8,771 -35.15% below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
68 N28 Lingga 8,731 -35.45% below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
69 N37 Bukit Saban 8,676 -35.86% below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
70 N80 Batu Danau 8,661 -35.97% below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
71 N43 Daro 8,554 -36.76% below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
72 N56 Dalat 8,536 -36.89% below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
73 N61 Pelagus 8,394 -37.94% below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
74 N78 Long Lama 8,057 -40.43% below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
75 N25 Simunjan 7,885 -41.70% below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
76 N66 Murum 7,648 -43.46% below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
77 N38 Kalaka 7,324 -45.85% below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
78 N65 Belaga 7,218 -46.64% below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
79 N81 Bakelalan 7,087 -47.60% below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
80 N24 Sadong Jaya 6,752 -50.08% below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
81 N77 Telang Usan 6,691 -50.53% below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
82 N26 Gedong 6,340 -53.13% below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
Total 1,109,134
Average 13,526
Average + 15% 15,555
Average – 15% 11,497
Average – 33% 9,018
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