VIEW: Winner of seats, not votes

  • Rafizi rebuts deputy minister’s denial on grant given to company favoured by Najib
    Rafizi rebuts deputy minister’s denial on grant given to company favoured by Najib

    An opposition lawmaker has rebutted Putrajaya's denial that no grants were issued to a private company allegedly favoured by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, saying that the list issued by a deputy minister was for a different time period. Rafizi Ramli said the list where which Deputy Science, Technology and Innovations Minister Datuk... …

  • DAP to decide next week who will run in Bukit Gelugor by-election
    DAP to decide next week who will run in Bukit Gelugor by-election

    The DAP central executive committee will discuss candidature of the Bukit Gelugor parliamentary seat for the upcoming by-election when it meets next Monday. Its secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said party leaders have, in the meantime, been told to refrain from making any announcement on the by-election to avoid distortion by mainstream media.... …

  • Don’t forget Pakatan’s common agenda, DAP reminds PAS as hudud row escalates
    Don’t forget Pakatan’s common agenda, DAP reminds PAS as hudud row escalates

    DAP will not bow to threats and will continue to resist the implementation of hudud as it is clearly unconstitutional, a party lawmaker said today. Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo (pic) said the party's stand on the Islamic penal law would not waver, especially as it was against the Pakatan Rakyat agenda. Gobind's father, the late Bukit Gelugor... …

  • Jalan Bukit Bintang stretch closed to traffic from today
    Jalan Bukit Bintang stretch closed to traffic from today

    The 500m stretch of Jalan Bukit Bintang between Chulan Square and Menara Worldwide will be closed to all traffic beginning today. Mass Rapid Transit Corporation Sdn Bhd (MRT Corp), in a statement today, said the closure was because of road rectification works following the detection of a depression beneath the pedestrian walkway in Jalan Bukit... …

  • KLIA2 found up to the mark, says Hisham

    The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has found the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) to be safe and that it meets international standards, says Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein.   He said ICAO had prepared a preliminary technical audit report on April 18 and it had been tabled to the cabinet yesterday.   "I think we are on track and it makes me proud to say that what we have promised the public - that KLIA2 will open as scheduled - will happen," he said …

  • Dropping Tony Pua from forum will cost BN youth support, says former MCA veep
    Dropping Tony Pua from forum will cost BN youth support, says former MCA veep

    A former MCA vice-president has spoken out against the move by the Malaysia Summit Australia (MASA) Conference to drop opposition lawmaker Tony Pua from the forum, saying that it would cost Barisan Nasional crucial support from youths. In a series of tweets, Gan Ping Sieu (pic) said barring opposition leaders from the Pakatan Rakyat pact would... …

Petaling Jaya (The Star/ANN) - When criticising laws and policies in this country, one of the stock answers that one is faced with is that the majority voted for the government in power, therefore, they are obviously happy with those said laws and policies. The majority rules after all.

I'd like to see anyone try that line of argument with me now. Not since 1969 has Malaysia had a government whom the majority of voters did not choose.

The popular vote in the 13th general election had 47 percent voting for Barisan Nasional, 51 percent for Pakatan Rakyat and the remainder to Indepen­dents.

The difference in numerical terms shows Pakatan with almost 390,000 more votes than Barisan.

These numbers are almost the mirror image of figures during the 12th general election when BN won, so theoretically it should now be Pa­k­atan's turn to govern.

Yet in GE13; Barisan lost only seven seats (my calculations are based on results of the 2008 elections before the frog-like behaviour of a handful of MPs) and are thus still holding the majority of seats in parliament.

This is a weird situation of course and one that a teacher would be hard pressed to explain to a class of nine-year-olds. Odd as it is, this is a possible outcome when one uses the first past the post system.

However, such abnormalities are usually found in political systems where there are more than two political parties or coalitions.

In those situations the possibility of votes being split are more numerous thus leading to the possibility of a government with less than 50 percent of the popular votes but more seats in the legislature.

In our situation, because by and large there are only two major players (the Independents and smaller parties had a minimal impact in terms of vote splitting), the popular vote should reflect the number of seats in parliament. Yet it did not.

So the question here is how can the system that we use (one used all over the world) lead to what on the face of it is an unfair result.

The answer is that although in the first past the post system the risk of a party having a majority of seats with a minority of popular votes is always there, the way to avoid such absurdities is to ensure that all the constituencies are approximately the same size in terms of voter numbers. This is obviously not the case in Malaysia.

The discrepancies of voter numbers can be huge; this is particularly so when comparing the rural and urban areas with the latter having far more registered voters (although this is not necessarily the case all the time; urban Putrajaya is tiny in terms of voter numbers).

Naturally, rural areas are more sparsely populated than urban areas and therefore a certain degree of flexibility is required when delineating constituency lines. Rural areas will by sheer demographic and geographic realities have fewer voters in them.

However, the difference must not be ridiculously high. The general guideline is that a discrepancy must not be more than 15 percent and thus when drawing the boundaries of the constituencies, this factor ought to be considered.

This is clearly not the case. To give you an idea as to how big the discrepancies can get; the difference between Kapar (144,159 voters) and Putrajaya (15,791 voters) is just over 900 percent.

In effect, in the smaller constituencies, a person's vote carries more weight than in the larger ones and it is no coincidence that the ruling coalition finds its support largely in small constituencies.

This is not a satisfactory situation but it is one that can be fixed because the moment has come for a re-delineation exercise in this country. What perfect timing.

The Election Commission (EC) is charged with the exercise although the final acceptance of their recommendations lies in the hands of parliament (and the state legislatures in the case of state seats).

This is an opportunity for the EC to do the right thing and make good recommendations.

They must if they are to recover any shred of dignity following their performance in the GE13. The fiasco with the so-called indelible ink is one example of how poorly handled things were.

The fact that the ink can be was­hed off (due to the "diluted" version used) has been attributed to the non-shaking of bottles (yes, seriously); Islamic teaching (although in India and Pakistan there appears to be no complaints about using the ink from the hundreds of millions of Muslims there); in the interest of health, apparently the ink can mess up your kidneys or give you cancer or something equally horrible (which is jolly thoughtful of the EC, but perhaps a tad paranoid and over-protective).

It was ludicrous to say that it does not matter if the ink is washable because you can only vote once with your identity card. What if someone has phantom like tendencies and has more than one identity card?

Which leads us to the EC's terribly blase treatment of genuine fears that phan­tom voters existed; another example of them behaving in a manner that does not engender public confidence.

I am unsure if the EC will redraw the constituency boundaries in a fairer manner, and I am even more unsure if the ruling party will accept anything that in their minds will be a disadvantage to their grasp on power.

What I am sure about is this country runs the risk of being a joke if something is not done to fix this. Unfortunately, it won't be a funny joke and there is the probability of an unamused and furious populace.

Democratic practices done properly are what ensure peace, not façade democracies which do not ultimately respect the peoples' choice.

When will those with the responsibility and the power stop thinking in petty terms and realise this? When will they show that they truly care about the nation?

COPYRIGHT: ASIA NEWS NETWORK

Follow @YahooMalaysia on LINE for daily news updates.

Comments on Yahoo pages are subject to our link to Comments Guidelines. You are responsible for any content that you post. Yahoo is not responsible or liable in any way for comments posted by its users. Yahoo does not in any way endorse or support comments made by its users.

  • MH370 passenger’s partner tells of strange email from sacked Fox officer The Malaysian Insider
    MH370 passenger’s partner tells of strange email from sacked Fox officer

    The partner of an American passenger aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has spoken about how a Fox executive who was recently sacked by the news station had contacted her offering to raise funds on her behalf. Sarah Bajc, whose partner Philip Wood is among the 239 people on board the missing plane, told the Sydney Morning Herald... …

  • My last moments with Pa: Ramkarpal Singh The Malaysian Insider
    My last moments with Pa: Ramkarpal Singh

    A week after the tragic crash that took the lives of veteran lawyer and politician Karpal Singh and his personal aide, Michael Cornelius, his son Ramkarpal recounts the final hours with his father that fateful day. This is his story, as told to V. Anbalagan, assistant news editor. “My parents (Karpal and Gurmit) had gone to Pantai Hospital... …

  • Absolute power corrupts absolutely, Dr Mahathir reminds current leaders The Malaysian Insider
    Absolute power corrupts absolutely, Dr Mahathir reminds current leaders

    Malaysian leaders have been reminded not to look down on the public’s capability to topple a corrupt government as what had happened in the Middle East during the Arab spring, warned Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (pic). In his latest blog posting today, the country’s longest serving prime minister said that monarchs and dictators in the Middle East... …