Malapportionment, gerrymandering undermines fair representation in S’wak, claims Aspirasi president

Lina Soo (file photo)

KUCHING, Nov 5: Sarawak People’s Aspiration Party (Aspirasi) president Lina Soo alleges that Sarawak’s constituencies are ‘beleaguered by malapportionment and gerrymandering which manipulate electorate size and electorate composition’, to the detriment of fair representation and democracy.

Soo said in a statement today that the party accepted the people’s verdict in the recently concluded Jepak state by-election and congratulated newly elected Jepak assemblyman Iskandar Turkee.

She also praised the two other candidates—Chieng Lea Phing from Aspirasi and Stevenson Joseph Sumbang from Parti Bumi Kenyalang (PBK)
—for their fighting spirit and upholding democracy.

“Not forgetting the Election Commission (EC) and the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) for carrying out their duties with professionalism and competency,” she said.

For the record, GPS candidate Iskandar successfully defended Jepak for the ruling coalition in the by-election with a majority of 8,784 in a three-cornered fight. He garnered a total of 9,638 votes.

Meanwhile, PBK candidate Stevenson and Aspirasi Chieng polled 854 and 431 votes, respectively.

A total of 10,923 people voted in the Jepak by-election with 48.57 per cent turnout.

Meanwhile, on the redrawing of Sarawak’s electoral State constituencies which is expected to happen soon, Soo said she is not optimistic of an equitable delineation exercise to give Sarawak voters fair and free elections.

According to the Aspirasi president, there is the likelihood of ‘political expediency’ which will adversely influence the redrawing exercise.

“This is the outcome of the unity government, as a result of all political parties in the coalition scrambling for seats.

“To satisfy all parties, democratic principles underlying the additional seats will be compromised, at the expense of the voters whose interests will be sacrificed,” she alleged.

Soo said Sarawak has unique characteristics in the composition of electoral constituencies in that it has a huge mass in proportion to its population, density, and demographics.

“The call by certain quarters for one-man-one-vote of the same value cannot apply, nor can the size of the constituency be determined by the number of voters or the reverse.”

Moreover, Soo said that regardless of the outcome of the delineation exercise for Sarawak, she believes as far as the voters are concerned, it can only get worse and never get better.

“Reviewing the electoral boundaries will provide advantage to, and favour the ruling party.

“When the administration is a unity government where all the component parties can collude and strike backroom deals in seats allocation, the voters will lose and also lead to the downfall of fair elections and democracy,” she claimed. — DayakDaily