What detergent to use to erase electoral boundaries that favour BN?

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How can one vote in Putrajaya be equivalent to 18 votes in another constituency, wonders Ravinder Singh, who also explains the real reason for the change in the location where the votes are counted at the end of polling.

Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof - Photograph: Malaysian Insider
Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof – Photograph: Malaysian Insider

The Chairman of the Election Commission is wondering what detergent to use to clean up the electoral roll!

He argues that it is impossible for any country to ensure the electoral roll is 100 per cent clean as voters pass away or move residences.

What is the problem that he faces? The Registration Department (RD) has a record of all persons who pass away. Why is the EC not getting this information from the RD and removing those names from the roll? As for voters who move to other places, they will either go back to vote where they are registered or not vote.

The drama unfolding in Sabah in the form of the RCI on “Project IC” is seen to be confirming that persons not qualified to vote had been registered as voters. This was done surreptitiously in order to assist certain parties to win the elections. And win they did.

All along the existence of these phantom voters was vehemently denied, but the evidence being given at the RCI is showing otherwise. Are the witnesses at the RCI just cooking up stories to put the Commission in bad light?

On another front it can be seen how blatantly the Commission assisted the incumbents to win election after election. This was done by moving the goalposts in the form of the boundaries of the electoral constituencies. Thus while the Constitution says that the number of voters in the constituencies should be “approximately equal”, the Commission had no qualms to totally disregard this and do what was necessary to help the incumbents remain in power.

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At the last GE the disparity between the sizes of the constituencies was so huge that 18 votes in one were equal to 1 in another. This was not accidental, for the huge constituencies were opposition supporters, but the small ones were the ruling party’s fixed deposits. Could the Commission Chairman please tell us which dictionary he used to determine the meaning of “approximately”, or where he learnt mathematics?

To move the goalposts, the Commission needed information on how small pockets of people (e.g. a kampong; a housing estate; some blocks of high rise apartments) had voted. To get this information, the method of counting votes was changed.

During the first few elections, all ballot boxes from all the polling stations in a State constituency would be taken to a central counting station. After checking that the seals on the boxes were not broken, the boxes would be emptied into large containers and the ballot papers mixed (like mixing raffle tickets). Then they would be counted. This way, one would not know how voters from any given part of the constituency had voted. The votes were secret.

This system was then changed – ostensibly to facilitate ‘spying’ work on voters. The counting of the ballots was moved out to the polling stations. It was done not just at each polling station, but at each stream in each polling station. The reason given to the public was that the counting would be faster and the results would be known earlier than before.

What the public was not told was that when votes are counted this way, the Commission has very detailed information about how a kampong, a housing estate, an apartment block or a few such blocks, had voted. Votes are no longer secret as the EC knows exactly how a kampung, a housing estate or a block of high rise apartments had voted.

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Each stream at a polling station has about 200 to 300 voters and they are from one small area in the constituency. With this information in hand, electoral boundaries were re-drawn to separate the assets from the liabilities. This is how the huge disparities in the sizes of the constituencies came about.

What detergent is the Chairman of the Election Commission going to use to erase the boundaries that were deliberately drawn to give advantage to the ruling party election after election? Does the Election Commission feel no shame in telling the people that a number as large as 18 is considered “approximately equal” to 1?

And the Commission can still thump its chest and say it is independent and the elections have always been fair? But until now, it has not explained the fairness of interpreting “approximately equal” to mean 1 vote in Putrajaya is “approximately equal” to 18 in Kapar. Please Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof, explain your mathematics to the public.

Ravinder Singh is a former teacher who now contributes to our Thinking Allowed Online section.

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