What Pas central committee member Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali recently boldly declared is very disturbing to say the least: boundaries in parliamentary constituencies of Malay-majority states should be redrawn for the supposed benefit of the Malay-Muslim community.
This proposal, he argued, could only be realised if and when the three Malay parties of Umno, Pas and Bersatu combine forces to gain a two-thirds majority in Parliament in the next general election, after which the triumph would then be used to make the playing field uneven as far as electoral competition goes.
To cut to the chase, the Kuala Nerus MP and his party are proposing gerrymandering, which is as anti-democratic as it is unjust. To corner the market in this manner in order to remain in power is simply outrageous.
This explains why electoral reform group Bersih 2.0 and other concerned Malaysians have been very much against such manipulation of our democratic system all these years. To be sure, gerrymandering violates the principles of equality and “one person, one vote”.
When the balance is tilted in your favour, you are likely to win, but there’s no honour in such fraudulent success, especially for parties supposedly championing Malay-Muslim interests and dignity.
Based on Article 113 of the Federal Constitution, the Election Commission can only conduct a boundary redrawing exercise eight years from the date of the previous exercise or if there is a change in the number of parliamentary seats under Article 46.
The eight-year period will end in Sarawak in 2023, 2025 in Sabah and 2026 in Peninsular Malaysia.
Khairuddin and his colleagues in his party should not play politics that is divisive and probably detrimental to the cohesion of the federation. They should instead work towards caring for the wellbeing of all Malaysian citizens, Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
Perhaps they ought to stop for a moment to ponder how would they feel like, conversely, if there are political groups in this multi-ethnic and multi-religious country who are, hypothetically, inclined to set up a non-Muslim voting belt in the desire to promote and protect their collective interests.
It may be worth putting themselves in another person’s shoes to realise that such a scenario is not a recipe for a united nation.
Political leaders who have promised in the past to work for all Malaysians and let no one be left behind should distance themselves from Khairuddin’s rhetoric to avoid unnecessary anxiety among the ordinary people. In fact, they should rise to the occasion to make a stand.
Politicians should not work with a parochial mindset in the comfort of their own cocoons while the rest of the world has witnessed a fast pace of globalisation and climate change, among other things. Burying their heads in the proverbial sand would not help.
This narrow-minded approach to politics might help to spawn bigotry and extremism that are inimical to the diverse nature of our society. Such unsavoury elements might find a home out of such insular politics.
Responsible leaders must see to it that all Malaysians, irrespective of whether they reside in the peninsula, Sabah or Sarawak, are treated equally. To favour one segment of the population or one region of the country over others is regressive, unjust and socially and politically disruptive.
Inclusive politics is the way forward because to prefer otherwise is not a viable option. – The Malaysian Insight