The issue of electoral malapportionment, or the imbalanced division of constituencies, remains one of the issues in need of reformation by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government, according to watchdog Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) in a statement today (17 Jul).

Citing the 17th Promise in the PH election manifesto, which covers the question of transparency and robustness in the Malaysian election system, Bersih 2.0 urged the government to withdraw or reject the Sabah Redelineation Report.

The movement warns that should the Report be passed, “no delineation would be possible for the next eight years”.

“Amending Article 46 of the FC to change the allocation of seats to the states in the Federation would trigger a much needed redelineation exercise to rectify inter-state malapportionment.

“The scale of malapportionment of constituencies would now be exacerbated through the lowering of voting age and automatic voters’ registration,” added Bersih 2.0.

PH’s 17th Promise in its election manifesto, among other key proposals, indicated that there will be a fair ratio in future delimitation exercises and transparency regarding the formula used to determine the number of voters and the size of each constituency.

Parliament should also consider amending the Federal Constitution to allow the implementation of a new electoral system to replace or improve the current First-Past-The-Post system to ensure a “more representative and inclusive” electoral outcome for Malaysia’s diverse communities, said Bersih 2.0.

First-Past-The-Post involves casting one’s vote on a ballot by marking the candidate of their choice. The candidate or party represented by the candidate that ends up with the most votes or by a simple majority will be considered the winner. Singapore also currently uses the First-Past-The-Post system.

Other than the issue of constituency malapportionment and other immediate electoral-related issues as illustrated above, Bersih 2.0 also urged the PH government to institute the following key reforms, including but not limited to:

  • Limiting the term of office of the PM to two terms and removing the Prime Minister’s ability to manipulate key institutions by creating stronger check and balance mechanisms;
  • Restricting the PM’s power to unilateral make key appointments or interfere in the appointment process of key public institutions such as the Election Commission, the Judicial Appointment Commission, the Chief Justice, the Human Rights Commission, the Attorney-General, Chief Justice, Auditor-General and MACC Chief;
  • Elevating the role of Parliament so that it can be an effective check and balance to the Executive led by the PM;
  • Amending Article 40, 114, 122, 145 and other laws to incorporate the role of Parliament in the process of major appointments.
  • Separating the office of the Attorney-General and that of the Public Prosecutor by amending Article 145 and 183 of the Federal Constitution and amendment of the definition of Public Prosecutor in the Interpretation Acts 1948 and 1967;

“Bipartisanship cooperation” among Dewan Rakyat MPs to lower voting age commendable: Bersih 2.0

The movement also congratulated members of Dewan Rakyat — the lower house of the Malaysian Parliament — for their “whole-hearted support” in pushing for amendments to Articles 119(1) and 119(4) of the Federal Constitution yesterday (16 Jul), which will pave the way to lowering the eligible voting age to 18.

Lowering the eligible voting age from 21 to 18 was also part of PH’s 17th Promise in the coalition’s election manifesto.

Lauding the efforts of Minister for Youth and Sports YB Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman in “pushing through this amendment in a consultative manner, acceding to the request of the Opposition for automatic voter registration, and lowering the age of candidates to 18 to be included”, Bersih 2.0 said the efforts to lower the voting age in Malaysia “sends a clear message that the days of bulldozing through laws and policies are over and that consultation and building consensus is the way to go”.

“History was made yesterday as it was the first time in our country that bipartisan cooperation saw the successful amendment to the Constitution, where a two-thirds majority was required.

“Bersih 2.0 is heartened that lawmakers from both sides of the divide demonstrated a rare unity on an issue that has such big electoral implication in our nation.

“We believe that the inclusion of younger voters into the process of electing political representatives would encourage their participation in issues that affect their daily lives as well as national issues,” said Bersih 2.0.

The watchdog also expressed its belief that “it is the hope of every Malaysian that our elected Members of Parliament would continue to place the interests of our country above partisan interest, and that they would continue to cooperate on legislating and amending laws that would protect the rights of all and strengthen the public institutions that serve us”.