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Thread: People's Tribunal: Electoral System

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2008

    People's Tribunal: Electoral System

    For elections, one of the most important element is the electoral system itself. There are two main systems with modifications and combinations making up the rest.

    Electoral Systems Around the World (click on the link to see an interactive map)

    1. List Proportional Representation (PR) 36.3%,
    2. First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) ------- 25.6&,
    3. Parallel, list and majoritarian ---- 12.8%,
    4. Two-round system ---------------- 8.1%,
    5. Mixed member proportional ------ 2.5%,
    6. Alternative vote -------------------- 2.1%,
    7. Others ------------------------------ 12.6%
    Total ---------------------------------- 100%
    Malaysia adopted the FPTP following the British model. According to the ACE Electoral Knowledge Network, FPTP which is a single-member system, will fail the fairness test more often than not (The ACE Encyclopaedia: Boundary Delimitation, page 16, paragraph 3).

    Wong Chin Huat has written in detail about fraud under the FPTP. How it is low cost and produce high benefits for the perpetrator. But that can only be carried with a compliant Election Commission. This will be discussed in another section.


    They are supposed to be run by independent and professional people who can command public confidence. Unfortunately, as shown here, they are all run by ex-senior civil servants seen to be beholden to the Ruling Party.

    Not only that, all the staff and EC officers are from the civil service. Obviously, there is a serious perception of bias.


    Tey Tsun Hang in his article "Malaysia's electoral system: Govt of the people? (2)" explains in detail how a compliant EC gerrymandered and malapportioned the constituencies.

    Delimitation ought to be done according to clear guidelines by a neutral and independent EC because electoral results can differ greatly according to how lines are drawn especially for FPTP voting. This can be done through malapportionment (disproportionate seat size) or gerrymandering (manipulation of boundaries to favour a particular party).

    The Federal Constitution Thirteenth Schedule does not spell out clear guidelines. Vague and general guidelines create ambiguities which gives a biased EC great leeway to manipulate constituencies to favour a candidate. Examples are phrases such as:

    • regard ought to be had,
    • inconveniences attendant on alterations of constituencies
    • maintenance of local ties

    They basically mean nothing without adequate elaboration and there is nothing that requires an EC to respect voter parity.

    During the delimitation exercise itself, the EC is required under Federal Constitution Article 115 (2) "to seek the advice of two officers of the Federal Government with special knowledge of the topography of, and the distribution of population in, the unit of review for federal elections, and those officers shall be selected for that purpose by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong." This effectively requires the EC to conduct the delimitation exercise under the directives of the Government. What is odd about the requirement of the need to consult an officer on population distribution is that the Thirteen Schedule stipulates the delimitation shall be based on voter population, not general population. And there are no guidelines on how the EC should take into account general population.

    Even if the EC were to carry out their work impartially, Clause 9 of the Thirteenth Schedule requires their recommendations to be submitted to the Prime Minister who reserves the right to alter the recommendations even before they are submitted to the House of Representatives. If it is not accepted by the House of Representatives, the Prime Minister may amend it "after such consultation with the EC as he may consider necessary". The recommendations can be passed by one-half of the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate need not be consulted.

    The EC is only obliged to conduct two hearings to consult the public on the delimitation exercise and a high barrier is imposed against participation - only a body of 100 voters from the same constituency can object, unlike the norm in other countries like Australia where any one person can object..

    And this was what we got finally!


    From independence in 1957, malapportionment (unequal seat size) was built into the Constitution.

    • At first, it was agreed that the rural seats be given a 15% advantage compared to the urban seats.

    • This safeguard was removed on 21st Jun 1962 (Federal Constitution Article 116(4)).
    • In 1963, when Malaysia was formed, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak were given 33% of the Parliamentary seats. This gave Sabah and Sarawak a disproportionate number of seats relative to their low population.
    • With Singapore's expulsion in 1965, the States of Malaya absorbed Singapore's seats to increase their share from 67% to 75%. Sabah and Sarawak's share dropped from 28% to 25%.
    • In 1973, a Constitution (Amendment) (No 2) Act 1973 amended Article 46 such that Parliament determined the number of seats for each State. This gave them the power to create malapportionment between States.
    • The power of the Election Commission to apportion seats was severely curtailed subject to rules specified in the Thirteenth Schedule.
    • Article 2 gives Parliament the power to create Federal Territories, which are designated as States.

      • ​On 1st Feb 1974, the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur was carved out of Selangor to change the racial composition of Selangor in favour of the Ruling Party,
      • In 1984, Labuan became the second Federal Territory,
      • In 2001, Putrajaya became the third Federal Territory.
      • Both Labuan and Putrajaya, because they were set up as States, were eligible to have a Parliamentary seat and could even appoint a Senator each to the Senate. Given their small size, this aggravated the malapportionment. Eg In 2008, Putrajaya was 1/17 of Kapar, the largest seat and in 2013, Putrajaya was still 1/9 the size of Kapar.

    Extracts from Adam Carr's paper: How they stole the Malaysian election, May 2013

    (with thanks to Suzzane Huang for preparing the charts below)

    Inter-State Malapportionment

    Observe the huge disparity in average enrolment in each constituency between the States. Selangor being the highest and the most urbanised State (Putrajaya) in the nation, being the lowest. How Trengganu being less-developed than Johor and Perak, yet it has a higher average enrolment. So the fiction that the EC gives weightage to the rural areas is merely a fiction.

    Intra-State Malapportionment

    But malapportionment is not limited between States, it is practised within the State as well!

    We can see in Table 3b that the disparity between the largest and smallest seat in Sarawak and Selangor are fairly close (around 4 times) but the difference in level of physical development between Selangor and Sarawak is the widest in the nation! Similarly, Perak which is considered as one of the more developed State has a ratio more than 3, higher than the other States which are less developed.


    Every eight years, the Election Commission draw the electoral boundaries for the Parliament and State constituencies following the guidelines set in the Thirteenth Schedule of the Constitution. They abused the process to create even more severe malapportionment, this time within the State. So much so that for GE13 in year 2013, this was what the voters got:

    (credit to Cheng Eng Aun)

    BN with only 47% of the votes, secured 60% of the seats while PR only had 40% of the seats with 51% of the popular votes. And it can be seen above (blue) that BN got the bulk of their seats in the smaller constituencies (rural) while PR got almost all their seats in the larger constituencies (urban or semi-urban).

    Not only that, by design, BN can win the first 112 smallest seats with less than 17% of the voter population.


    Tey Tsun Hang gave a history of manipulating of the electoral rolls. Registration of electors are governed by Elections (Registration of Electors) Regulations 2002. Massive numbers of illegal voters were introduced into Sabah from Philippines and Indonesia through Project M. This is the subject of an ongoing Royal Commission of Inquiry. In Peninsular Malaysia, the Selangor Government commissioned a study on the electoral rolls and complained of thousands of dubious names. But the EC simply ignored the protests and essentially did nothing to clean up the rolls. In this, they were protected by Clause 9A of the Elections Act 1958:

    Certified or re-certified electoral roll shall be deemed to be final

    9A. After an electoral roll has been certified or re-certified, as the case may be, and notice of the certification or re-certification has been published in the Gazette as prescribed by regulations made under this Act, the electoral roll shall be deemed to be final and binding and shall not be questioned or appealed against in, or reviewed, quashed or set aside by, any court.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    An Electoral Framework Assessment of Malaysia's conduct of GE13 in comparison with 6 other General Elections in 5 countries.

    Reference: Revisiting Free and Fair Elections, Inter-Parliamentary Union, Nov 2004.
    Paper: Judging Elections and Election Management Quality by Process, by Jorgen Elklit and Andrew Reynolds, pages 67 - 69.

    Malaysia's performance is in the bottom of the table besides Zimbabwe.

    Detailed working attached

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