EIP ranks Malaysia’s electoral integrity just above Zimbabwe

Posted on 01/03/2014 - 18:01

Ng Kee Seng
Executive Editor

QUICK TAKE: The Electoral Integrity Project (EIP) has concluded that Barisan Nasional’s victory in the 13th General Election (GE13) last May was due to gerrymandering or the malapportionment of electoral boundaries.

It also ranked Malaysia’s electoral integrity at 66th out of 73 nations polled across the globe, just above Zimbabwe.

The University of Sydney and Harvard University-based EIP findings were released this month in a 20-page executive report and a 112-page full report as The Year in Elections, 2013.

The EIP found that GE13 was perceived as having a low level of integrity due to problematic electoral boundaries and election laws.

Cambodia was ranked below Malaysia at 69th and the only other Southeast Asian country on the list, the Philippines, was at 47th.

In the EIP’s 100-point Perception of Electoral Integrity (PEI) index, a higher score denotes a more positive evaluation. Malaysia scored only 48.4 points, compared with Norway, which was ranked first, at 86.4 points.

“Worldwide, electoral integrity is at risk in Southeast Asia. Recent electoral protests and instability in Thailand, Cambodia, and Malaysia vividly illustrate these challenges,” the EIP stated.

The EIP found the ruling BN coalition had a distinct advantage in constituency size in rural Malay constituencies while the urban Chinese-majority opposition strongholds had much larger electorates,” the report said, pointing out that the Putrajaya federal constituency had just 15,791 eligible voters, compared with the Kapar constituency with 144,159 eligible voters.

The EIP also noted that Pakatan Rakyat bagged just 89 federal seats, or 40 per cent of the 222-seat Dewan Rakyat, despite winning 50.87 per cent of the popular vote in the first-past-the-post electoral system.

The EIP also questioned the legitimacy of the government and observed BN’s advantage through the control and influence of radio and television, with many newspapers having close ties to the ruling coalition. The opposition only had space in online media.

The EIP also noted BN’s advantage in “access to political finance”, with experts mostly concerned about the lack of a level playing field in campaign media and financing.

The findings also concluded that electoral integrity is strengthened by democracy and development, noting that the top three, Norway, Germany and the Netherlands had strengthened democratic practices and electoral management bodies over the years.

Norway scored 86.4 PEI points, Germany 84.1 and the Netherlands 82.7.

The United States scored the worst among Western countries, coming in at 26th with 70.2 points, as experts expressed concern over redistricting processes, campaign finance and voter registration.

South Korea ranked sixth, while Japan came 16th and 18th for two elections held in 2012 and 2013, respectively.

Yet again, the international community has viewed Malaysia’s integrity lowly.