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Thread: Delimitation FAQ

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2008

    Delimitation FAQ

    1. What is Delimitation?
    2. Why is it important & How does it affect me?
    3. What can we do about it?
    4. How do we do it?
    5. How do we justify equalizing the seat sizes?
    6. What is the timeline?
    7. What are the benefits?

    1. What is Delimitation?

    222 Parliamentary and 576 State seats are involved. See list here.

    Delimitation is commonly known as redelineation.

    Boundary delimitation (or simply delimitation) is the drawing of boundaries, particularly of electoral precincts, states, counties or other municipalities.

    In the context of elections, it can be called redistribution in order to prevent unbalance of population across districts. Unbalanced or discriminatory delimitation is called "gerrymandering.".... more at Wiki

    The laws governing delimitation is defined in the Thirteenth Schedule of the Federal Constitution.

    2. Why is it important & How does it affect me?

    Delimitation is due to start in Mar 2011 (8 years after the last delimitation exercise in Mar 2003). The EC does not have to carry out the delimitation if he deems it not necessary. But once he starts, he has to finish in 2 years.

    A biased Election Commission can draw the boundaries and recommend the creation of seats that favour a particular party. They can malapportion the seats such that very small seats are created in strong-holds of a party and large seats created in the strong-hold of another party. In Malaysia's case, you can have a seat in Kapar which is 9 times the size of Putrajaya but both can vote in 1 Member of Parliament. There are the 2 methods used to create advantage for a party - malapportionment and gerrymandering.

    This term refers to inequalities between the number of voters in electoral districts which have the same number of representatives. Voters in electoral districts with a large number of voters have less voting power than voters in electoral districts with only a few voters. For this reason, malapportionment is often referred to as vote weighting.
    This is described as

    The dividing of a state, county, etc., into election districts so as to give one political party a majority in many districts while concentrating the voting strength of the other party into as few districts as possible.

    Every exercise has resulted more severe distortion of the seat apportionment and glaring gerrymandering. One exercise can affect 2 GE's.

    The election results does not reflect the popular will. Parties with minority votes get to rule the country despite not winning the popular vote. If results are maintained in this way for long periods of time, corruption becomes rampant.

    Take a look at GE12 results (courtesy of Ng Chak Ngoon) and then compare with GE13 below htat.

    GE13 Chart (courtesy of Cheng Eng Aun). With only 47% of the popular vote, BN won 133 seats (almost 60%) while PR with 51% of the popular vote only won 89 seats (40%).

    Was this a freak result? No! This has happened since the 1st GE in 1959 for Malaya and has continued to this day. Historically, UMNO (Alliance Party up to 1972 and BN thereafter) has never won less than 60% of the seats even with less than 50% of the votes. GE13 was their worst result by comparison.

    What will it take for BN to lose a GE? Taking into account the GE13 results, when the popular vote they get is below 44%.

    Why has this improved compared to the previous threshold of 40%?

    • Improved voter awareness through voter education

    • Better-trained and more PACABA's (polling agent, counting agent and barung agent.)

    Given the rampant cheating evident during GE13, it may be necessary for this % to drop below 40% for a clear-cut decision that will overcome cross-overs and even more dirty tricks to come. 56% to 44% is 12%. This is how much of a handicap the non-BN parties have to overcome to win a GE. Does such a disparity in votes reflect the popular will?

    Dr. Adam Carr, a Melbourne, Australia specialist in electoral systems, was so moved by the way GE13 was conducted that he wrote a commentary on it.

    I have added maps for the May (click link)Malaysia legislative election. I don't usually make political comments at this archive, but the rigging of the Malaysian election was so blatant that I have written a (click link) commentary describing it.

    He analysed the malapportionment.

    And predicted what would have been if the seats were perfectly balanced, with zero malapportionment.

    PR would have won 112 seats, BN 109 seats with 1 seat in Kedah too close to call.

    How would the seats be redistributed?

    Sabah and Sarawak will see substantial reduction in their seats with the major gainer being Selangor. Politically, this will not be acceptable to Sabah and Sarawak and go against the spirit of the Malaysia Agreement made in 1963.

    3. What can we do about it?

    Maintain the seat ratios promised to Sabah & Sarawak.

    Redraw the constituencies to balance the seat size. The myth of parliamentarians being unable to communicate with the voters is just a myth. Australia has many seats larger than the states of Pahang. Despite that all the seats are of equal size in terms of population, across the country.
    • Volunteer to be part of our delimitation team to draw the boundaries,

    • Help to organize min 100 voters (preferably 120 to allow for drop-outs) from the same constituency to be objectors as defined in the Thirteenth Schedule

    4. How do we do it? [Download a pivot table example to expedite your analysis.]

    Stage 1: We draw the constituencies according the rules defined in the Thirteenth Schedule of the Federal Constitution. The seat distribution specified in Article 46 of the Federal Constitution will be maintained.

    This is shown in the yellow column, with total MPs = 222.

    Stage 2: We propose under Projek BERES a redistribution of the Parliamentary seats. We go back to the 1963 formula. Sabah will get 26 seats, Sarawak 38 seats.

    Within Peninsular Malaysia, the seats are redistributed to have approximately equal sizes in voter population. This will result in a rebalancing of the seats among the states with the biggest gainer being Selangor. This is shown in the orange column.

    Seat variations:

    Electoral quotient = total voter population of the area divided by the number of seats.

    Eg Peninsular Malaysia: 67,607
    Sabah: 37,781
    Sarawak: 28,584
    Peninsular Malaysia: 90% of the seats to be maintained within +/-10% and in case to exceed +/-15% of the Peninsular electoral quotient, except for islands which will be considered on a case by case basis.

    Sabah & Sarawak: 90% of the seats to be maintained within +/-15% of the average state electoral quotient.

    Australia has a very clear-cut procedure for delimitation that we should do well to emulate.
    SPR Guidelines: They appear to be very concerned about the ability of voters to vote easily.

    semua pemilih diberi peluang yang semunasabahnya mudah untuk pergi mengundi

    Let's examine their actions during GE13:
    1. Normal voters were given an average of 46 seconds to vote while the Army and the Police had between 1.5 to 8.6 minutes.
    2. In many polling stations in the rural areas is Sabah and Sarawak, the polling stations closed early, preventing voters who had to travel long distances, to vote.
    3. Polling was from 8am - 5pm. For rural areas, it should be for 2 days if the constituency area is large or more polling stations provided.
    4. Many polling stations were placed on the 2nd floor of the schools even though there were enough classrooms on the ground floor to accommodate them.


    Di samping mengambil perhatian tentang wajarnya semua pemilih diberi peluang yang semunasabahnya mudah untuk pergi mengundi, bahagian-bahagian pilihan raya patutlah disempadankan supaya tidak merentasi sempadan Negeri dan patutlah juga diberikan perhatian kepada kesulitan bahagian pilihan raya Negeri merentasi sempadan bahagian-bahagian pilihan raya persekutuan;
    Perhatian patutlah diberikan kepada kemudahan pentadbiran yang boleh didapati di dalam bahagian pilihan raya itu bagi mengadakan jentera pendaftaran dan pengundian yang perlu;
    Bilangan pemilih di dalam setiap bahagian pilihan raya di dalam sesuatu Negeri patutlah lebih kurang sama banyak kecuali bahawa, dengan mengambil kira kesulitan yang lebih besar untuk sampai kepada pemilih di dalam daerah desa dan kesukaran lain yang dihadapi oleh bahagian-bahagian pilihan raya di luar bandar, ukuran pewajaran bagi kawasan patutlah diberikan kepada bahagian-bahagian pilihan raya; dan
    Perhatian patutlah diberikan kepada kesulitan yang akan timbul dengan perubahan bahagian-bahagian pilihan raya, dan kepada pemeliharaan hubungan tempatan.
    Laporan Kajian Semula Persempadanan dengan syor awal persempadanan dikemukakan kepada Yang di-Pertua Dewan Rakyat dan Perdana Menteri. Pada masa yang sama, suatu notis dikeluarkan dalam sekurang-kurangnya satu akhbar dan disiarkan dalam Warta, serta dipamerkan di semua bahagian-bahagian pilihan raya selama satu bulan untuk pemeriksaan dan rayuan orang ramai.
    Proses persempadanan bermula dengan arahan oleh Ibu Pejabat SPR kepada Pengarah-pengarah Pilihan Raya Negeri mengumpul maklumat-maklumat seperti bilangan pemilih di bahagian-bahagian Pilihan Raya Parlimen dan Negeri, kemudahan-kemudahan baru yang ada seperti bangunan dan sekolah-sekolah untuk digunakan sebagai tempat pengundiaan pilihan raya dan kemudahan perhubungan dan pengangkutan. Arahan ini dikeluarkan setelah tamat tempoh lat 8 tahun dengan selesainya kajian semula persempadanan sebelum ini.
    Suruhanjaya mesti mengadakan siasatan tempatan untuk mendengar rayuan yang diterima dalam tempoh pameran itu dari mana-mana Kerajaan Negeri, pihak berkuasa tempatan dan kumpulan 100 orang pemilih dan lebih, dari bahagian-bahagian pilihan raya yang terlibat dengan kajian tersebut.
    Sebaik sahaja selesai siasatan berkenaan, sebarang perubahan kepada syor persempadanan mestilah dipamerkan semula kepada orang ramai untuk tempoh sebulan. Suruhanjaya tidak perlu mengadakan lebih daripada dua siasatan tempatan.
    Cadangan persempadanan yang akhir akan dikemukakan kepada Perdana Menteri untuk dibentangkan dalam Dewan Rakyat bagi mendapatkan kelulusan. Bahagian-bahagian pilihan raya yang baru hanya terpakai apabila Parlimen atau Dewan Undangan Negeri dibubar.
    Info Penting @ Tahukah Anda?
    * Tambahan Bilangan Kerusi Hasil Persempadanan Bahagian-bahagian Pilihan Raya Semenanjung, Sabah dan Sarawak.

    * Senarai Bahagian-Bahagian Pilihan Raya Parlimen dan DUN Untuk Setiap Negeri-Negeri

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    5. How do we justify equalizing the seat size?

    Federal Constitution Thirteenth Schedule [(Articles 113, 116 & 117]
    Provisions relating to delimitation of Constituencies Part I Declaration of and Principles Relating to the Delimitation of Constituencies.

    2. The following principles shall as far as possible be taken into account in dividing any unit of review into constituencies pursuant to the provisions of Articles 116 and 117—

    (a) while having regard to the desirability of giving all electors reasonably convenient opportunities of going to the polls, constituencies ought to be delimited so that they do not cross State boundaries and regard ought to be had to the inconveniences of State constituencies crossing the boundaries of federal constituencies;

    (b) regard ought to be had to the administrative facilities available within the constituencies for the establishment of the necessary registration and polling machines;

    (c) the number of electors within each constituency in a State ought to be approximately equal except that, having regard to the greater difficulty of reaching electors in the country districts and the other disadvantages facing rural constituencies, a measure of weightage for area ought to be given to such constituencies;

    The above phrase basically means nothing.

    · How do we consider difficulty of reaching electors? Is it during an election campaign or during normal times? If an election campaign, a simple solution is to increase the campaign period.
    · What are the disadvantages facing rural constituencies?

    Both factors are within the control of the Federal Government and if it is still not provided after 50 years of the formation of Malaysia, it is clear that the Government has no intention of solving the problems of the rural constituencies.

    Consider Durack in Western Australia. It is represented by one MP and has a land area almost 5 times the size of Malaysia and 50 times the size of the largest constituency in Malaysia in terms of land size, Hulu Rajang. Surely, a Durack MP has much greater difficulty to reach his electors and the rural constituents must suffer horrendous disadvantages.

    How is that possible?
    1. Roads,
    2. Radio,
    3. TV,
    4. Internet

    It seems there is a perverse logic in keeping Hulu Rajang isolated and poor in order to keep the electorate size small. In fact, there are advantages for Hulu Rajang to have a larger voter population that includes a significant urban portion. These people are more vocal and can help them fight for their rights better.

    What about the State seats?

    To maintain the State seat sizes within the specified limits of 10% (Peninsular Malaysia) and 15% (Sabah/Sarawak), the DUN/Parliament ratio has to be kept constant for each State.

    It can be seen that there are significant differences between the original nos. of DUN's and the new nos. It is up to the respective State Govts to decide whether this is acceptable.
    List of Parliament and State seats:

    Can we get information from any source?

    Penang has this: PEGIS -

    Likewise, we expect the other States to have something similar.

    Outline of Constituencies:

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    6. What is the timeline?

    This is governed by Part II of the Thirteenth Schedule of the Federal Constitution.

    This procedure can only be repeated a maximum of two times.

    First round: 1 month.
    EC review representations from the stakeholders.
    Second round: 1 month.
    EC consult with PM before tabling to Parliament.
    After it is supported by not less than half of the total number of members of the House, the PM shall submit the draft to the Agong to make an Order.

    4. Where the Election Commission have provisionally determined to make recommendations under Clause (2) of Article 113 affecting any constituency, they shall inform the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Prime Minister accordingly, and shall publish in the Gazette and in at least one newspaper circulating in the constituency a notice stating—

    (a) the effect of their proposed recommendations, and (except in a case where they propose to recommend that no alteration be made in respect of the constituency) that a copy of their recommendations is open to inspection at a specified place within the constituency; and

    (b) that representations with respect to the proposed recommendations may be made to the Commission within one month after the publication of such notice,

    and the Commission shall take into consideration any representations duly made in accordance with any such notice.

    5. Where, on the publication of the notice under section 4 of a proposed recommendation of the Election Commission for the alteration of any constituencies, the Commission receive any representation objecting to the proposed recommendation from—

    (a) the State Government or any local authority whose area is wholly or partly comprised in the constituencies affected by the recommendation; or

    (b) a body of one hundred or more persons whose names are shown on the current electoral rolls of the constituencies in question,

    Sample work on Selangor in progress.

    We would expect the EC to conform to best international standards in line with our aspirations to achieve developed nation status by 2020, which is less than 7 years away.

    Summary Table: Boundary Delimitation International Principles, Standards, and Best Practices

    Standards Best Practices
    Principle 1: Impartiality
    • Nonpartisan boundary authority • No legislators or political party officials are permitted to serve on boundary authority, or
    • If party representatives serve, partisan representation is balanced and in the minority (nonpartisan commissioners control the authority).
    • Independent boundary authority • Constituencies produced by boundary authority are final, or
    • If parliament must pass legislation to implement constituencies, it is given a limited time to do so and is not permitted to modify boundaries.
    • Professional boundary authority • At least a portion of boundary authority serves exofficio from government departments, agencies, or
    commissions relevant to the delimitation process (elections, geography, cartography, and
    Principle 2: Equality
    • Constituency populations as
    equal as possible
    • Constituency populations are not permitted to vary more than a set percentage from the population
    • Constituency populations that fall within tolerance limit but deviate substantially from the population
    quota are justified with reference to established delimitation criteria.
    • Established trigger for
    undertaking delimitation
    • Delimitation is undertaken at mandatory time intervals, or
    • If other events trigger delimitation, one of these is a pre-determined level of malapportionment.
    Principle 3: Representativeness
    • Maintain cohesive communities • Boundary authority is required to take into account criteria relevant to representation such as administrative boundaries, geographic features, and
    other factors related to communities of interest.
    Principle 4: Non-Discrimination
    • Safeguard representation of
    racial, ethnic, religious, and
    linguistic minorities
    • Prohibition against fragmentation of geographically concentrated minority groups, or
    • If justified, use of special provisions such as reserved seats, constituencies designated for minority candidates, or constituencies drawn specifically for
    minority voters.
    Principle 5: Transparency
    • Access to information • Public awareness program (including publicizing the steps and criteria for delimitation) is required.
    • Public hearing schedule is established and publicized.
    • Final report explaining decisions is published.
    • Public consultation • Public consultation is required to provide stakeholders with an opportunity to comment on proposed
    constituency boundaries.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    7. What are the benefits?

    A properly delineated boundary for all the State and Parliament seat will minimize abuse of the system to favour a particular party and create a level playing field for all contestants. Under that scenario, the people will be the deciding factor. Effectively, that brings power back to the people.

    It is a critical component of Free and Fair Elections, which under the UN UDHR is a fundamental human right.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Example of Delimitation Exercise.

    Considerations for delimitation

    There are several factors that should be taken into account when conducting a delimitation exercise. These include :

    • Equal size of population. As each constituency elects one member, the constituencies should have approximately the same number of people in it so as to give each vote equal weight in the constituency. Mostly this equality is based on the total population figure, i.e. not only the eligible voters . This is quite common and fully in line with best international practice. Some countries use the number of eligible voters, number of ballots cast in previous elections or a combination of several factors as a milestone for equality. As it is practically impossible to make all constituencies exactly equal in size, thresholds should be defined for how far above and below the average size any given electorate can be.

    • Existing constituencies should respect the boundaries of lower level administrative units. As example, people from different parts of a small village should not be split between different constituencies.

    • Infrastructure. To facilitate people’s access to voting, geographical features should be taken into account during delimitation. A mountain range or a river may make access difficult whereas a road may facilitate it.
    In addition to the stricter requirements above, those conducting the delimitation may wish to take into account some sensitivities such as:

    • Where people feel they belong to. People living in a certain area may feel they that they “belong” together with a certain neighboring area. This is particularly the case in large urban areas.

    • Ideally minimal changes to existing boundaries. Changing boundaries and hence which constituency people vote in can cause confusion and even resentment. People may have been used to voting for certain politicians that are no longer on the ballot in the voters’ new constituency.

    • Potentially take into account projected demographics. Since delimitation is only foreseen every eight years after a new delimitation, demographics may change a lot over this period. Foreseeable demographic changes can be taken into account, e.g. if a new urban development has been planned with a resulting large increase of population in the affected area.

    • Political issues. Perhaps most sensitive of all are issues relating to political demographics. Such knowledge can be misused. Whether it is or not, a delimitation committee will often be accused of taking political considerations into account. It may be prudent to at least be aware of these issues during delimitation in order to foresee and counter potential complaints, e.g. through the consideration of past election results. Politicians have been known to put pressure for moving voters from a safe constituency to neighboring constituencies with close electoral races. Example: If city A has a large majority for party X, then moving part of these voters to city B will probably mean that party X will gain relatively more votes in city B and hence stand a greater chance of winning.

    GIS as a tool for delimitation

    GIS can assist in delimitation in various ways. The word assist is used very deliberately. Although some software solutions claim to offer automated delimitation, reality is that the various factors above usually mean that automation is not preferred.

    As a first step, GIS can be used to identify and illustrate which areas require intervention. As an example, on the below map red areas are existing constituencies that have too many voters compared to the set threshold and yellow areas are existing constituencies that have too few voters. All the white areas are within the thresholds and the boundaries may therefore remain unchanged.

    During delimitation the GIS system can give immediate graphical and numeric feedback on changed boundary scenarios. This enables the delimitation commission members to quickly go through several different scenarios and see the resulting consequences visually.

    The figures and tables below illustrate an example in which it has been calculated an average of 100 people per constituencies and threshold has been set at +/- 5%, i.e. each constituency should have a minimum of 95 people and a maximum of 105 people.

    The example moves through from an initial situation in which two constituencies are outside of thresholds – blue area below and green area above. Since blue and green do not share a border we can’t just move people directly from one to another. We try to move some people (seven) from yellow to blue area. This solves blue which is now inside threshold, but makes yellow go below threshold. In the third image an areas has been moved from green to yellow (12 people) and all areas are now within threshold.

    GIS also offers ease of comparison with geographical features, administrative boundaries, previous delimitation, and potentially previous election results.
    Finally GIS enables instant publication of the new delimitation, thus shortening the time required for the process as a whole.

  6. #6
    Join Date
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