Sarawak redelineation exercise seriously stymied

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 Pelawan31,388132.06%
N10 Pending30,881128.31%
N51 Bukit Asek28,908113.72%
N52 Dudong28,569111.22%
N74 Pujut26,53296.16%
N75 Senadin26,25794.12%
N11 Batu Lintang24,64082.17%

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

NoParliamentary ConstituencyElectorateDeviation from state averageClassification
1P195 Bandar Kuching78,394119.11%above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
2P219 Miri74,132107.19%above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
3P212 Sibu66,37585.51%above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
4P196 Stampin60,99770.48%above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
5P217 Bintulu57,88761.79%above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
6P211 Lanang57,47760.64%above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
7P194 Petra Jaya51,98745.30%above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
8P198 Puncak Borneo42,85419.77%above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
9P197 Kota Samarahan39,0299.08%+-15%, within the 1957 standard
10P193 Santubong37,8265.72%+-15%, within the 1957 standard
11P208 Sarikei37,0833.64%+-15%, within the 1957 standard
12P199 Serian34,602-3.29%+-15%, within the 1957 standard
13P220 Baram31,476-12.03%+-15%, within the 1957 standard
14P202 Sri Aman30,443-14.91%+-15%, within the 1957 standard
15P218 Sibuti29,363-17.93%between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
16P205 Saratok28,777-19.57%between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
17P215 Kapit28,555-20.19%between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
18P201 Batang Lupar27,212-23.94%between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
19P213 Mukah27,167-24.07%between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
20P214 Selangau27,071-24.34%between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
21P204 Betong26,807-25.08%between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
22P192 Mas Gading26,171-26.85%between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
23P221 Limbang24,977-30.19%between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
24P216 Hulu Rejang23,637-33.94%below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
25P209 Julau22,932-35.91%below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
26P200 Batang Sadong20,977-41.37%below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
27P210 Kanowit19,862-44.49%below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
28P203 Lubok Antu19,819-44.61%below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
29P206 Tanjong Manis19,025-46.83%below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
30P222 Lawas18,138-49.31%below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
31P207 Igan18,082-49.46%below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
 

Total Electorate

1,109,134
Average35,779
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 ConstituencyElectorateDeviation from state averageClassification
1N54 Pelawan31,388132.06%above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
2N10 Pending30,881128.31%above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
3N51 Bukit Asek28,908113.72%above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
4N52 Dudong28,569111.22%above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
5N74 Pujut26,53296.16%above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
6N75 Senadin26,25794.12%above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
7N11 Batu Lintang24,64082.17%above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
8N09 Padungan22,87369.10%above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
9N73 Piasau21,34357.79%above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
10N12 Kota Sentosa21,24757.08%above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
11N06 Tupong20,71353.13%above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
12N45 Repok20,28249.95%above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
13N13 Batu Kitang20,10748.65%above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
14N14 Batu Kawah19,64345.22%above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
15N68 Tanjong Batu19,28942.61%above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
16N07 Samariang17,69430.81%above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
17N53 Bawang Assan17,64530.45%above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
18N55 Nangka17,34228.21%above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
19N72 Lambir17,12526.61%above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
20N19 Mambong16,80324.23%above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
21N46 Meradong16,80124.21%above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
22N76 Marudi16,72823.67%above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
23N02 Tasik Biru16,64023.02%above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
24N20 Tarat16,37421.06%above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
25N79 Bukit Kota16,31620.63%above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
26N04 Pantai Damai16,16019.47%above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
27N16 Muara Tuang15,56215.05%above +15%, exceeding the 1957 standard
28N59 Tamin14,4696.97%+-15%, within the 1957 standard
29N08 Satok13,5800.40%+-15%, within the 1957 standard
30N23 Triboh13,160-2.71%+-15%, within the 1957 standard
31N48 Meluan13,009-3.82%+-15%, within the 1957 standard
32N70 Samalaju12,927-4.43%+-15%, within the 1957 standard
33N67 Jepak12,873-4.83%+-15%, within the 1957 standard
34N69 Kemena12,798-5.38%+-15%, within the 1957 standard
35N17 Stakan12,761-5.66%+-15%, within the 1957 standard
36N60 Kakus12,602-6.83%+-15%, within the 1957 standard
37N05 Demak Laut12,365-8.58%+-15%, within the 1957 standard
38N71 Bekenu12,238-9.52%+-15%, within the 1957 standard
39N39 Krian11,694-13.54%+-15%, within the 1957 standard
40N32 Simanggang11,366-15.97%between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
41N21 Tebedu11,279-16.61%between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
42N82 Bukit Sari11,051-18.30%between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
43N50 Machan10,932-19.18%between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
44N15 Asajaya10,706-20.85%between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
45N63 Selirik10,560-21.93%between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
46N33 Engkilili10,384-23.23%between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
47N22 Kedup10,163-24.86%between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
48N47 Pakan9,923-26.64%between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
49N57 Tellian9,858-27.12%between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
50N30 Balai Ringin9,811-27.47%between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
51N40 Kabong9,759-27.85%between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
52N42 Semop9,739-28.00%between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
53N18 Serembu9,677-28.46%between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
54N29 Beting Maro9,677-28.46%between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
55N62 Katibas9,601-29.02%between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
56N01 Opar9,531-29.54%between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
57N44 Jemoreng9,528-29.56%between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
58N34 Batang Ai9,435-30.25%between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
59N03 Tanjong Datu9,301-31.24%between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
60N35 Saribas9,296-31.27%between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
61N41 Kuala Rajang9,286-31.35%between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
62N31 Bukit Begunan9,266-31.49%between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
63N49 Ngemah8,930-33.98%between -15% and -33%, within the 1962 standard
64N36 Layar8,835-34.68%below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
65N27 Sebuyau8,804-34.91%below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
66N58 Balingian8,773-35.14%below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
67N64 Baleh8,771-35.15%below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
68N28 Lingga8,731-35.45%below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
69N37 Bukit Saban8,676-35.86%below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
70N80 Batu Danau8,661-35.97%below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
71N43 Daro8,554-36.76%below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
72N56 Dalat8,536-36.89%below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
73N61 Pelagus8,394-37.94%below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
74N78 Long Lama8,057-40.43%below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
75N25 Simunjan7,885-41.70%below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
76N66 Murum7,648-43.46%below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
77N38 Kalaka7,324-45.85%below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
78N65 Belaga7,218-46.64%below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
79N81 Bakelalan7,087-47.60%below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
80N24 Sadong Jaya6,752-50.08%below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
81N77 Telang Usan6,691-50.53%below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
82N26 Gedong6,340-53.13%below -33%, exceeding the 1962 standard
Total1,109,134
Average13,526
Average + 15%15,555
Average – 15%11,497
Average – 33%9,018
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