• Public Protests, Election Petitions and Parliamentary Pressure are all actions consistent with the ongoing struggle to create a more transparent, fairer and cleaner electoral system

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, 23rd June, 2013 in Kuala Lumpur

    Public Protests, Election Petitions and Parliamentary Pressure are all actions consistent with the ongoing struggle to create a more transparent, fairer and cleaner electoral system

    Election Commission (EC) Deputy Chairman Wan Ahmad Wan Omar was quoted[1] as calling Pakatan Rakyat MPs hypocrites for protesting and not accepting the results of the 13th general election while at the same time agreeing to take part in the swearing in ceremony on Monday, the 24th of June, 2013.

    I want to reassure the Deputy Chairman, as an elected representative who will be taking my oath on the 24th of June, 2013, and who also participated in yesterday’s, 22nd June, 2013 protest rally at Padang Merbok in Kuala Lumpur, that I see these as perfectly consistent actions that are not at all hypocritical. In fact, all the actions taken thus far by Pakatan Rakyat – organizing public protests, filing election petitions, making our voices heard in parliament – are all actions consistent in our desire to create a more transparent, fairer and cleaner electoral system.

    Let me remind the Deputy Chairman that it was only after the public protests of the third Bersih rally on the 28th of April, 2011 that pressured Prime Minister Najib into establishing a Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reform on the 15th of August, 2011.[2] Let me also remind the Deputy Chairman that it was only after three Bersih rallies that the Election Commission finally agreed to the use of indelible ink after cancelling its use at the last minute just before the 2008 General Election. Let me also remind the Deputy Chairman that it was only through public pressure by NGOs such as the Bersih coalition and the MyOverseasVote[3] initiative that the Election Commission finally allowed for overseas postal voting by Malaysians who are already on the electoral roll.

    But our job to improve our electoral system has only just begun. There is still a long way to go. There is still an urgent need to address many shortcomings in the electoral system, many of which were covered in the Final Report from the Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reform.[4] These include:

    (i)                A serious cleaning up of the electoral roll which includes investigating ICs which are improperly given out by the National Registration Department (NRD), many of them in Sabah, and other problems which have been highlighted by the Malaysian Electoral Roll Analysis Project (MERAP)[5]

    (ii)              Changing Section 9A of the Elections Act 1958 which states that the gazetted electoral roll cannot be challenged in court

    (iii)             Allowing Sabahans and Sarawakians who are working in Peninsular Malaysia and Peninsular Malaysians who are working in Sabah and Sarawak to cast their vote without having to fly home

    (iv)             Automatic Registration upon turning 21 years of age

    (v)              Redrawing constituency boundary lines and adding seats in accordance with the one-man-one-vote principle

    (vi)             Breaking up the EC into three separate agencies which are in charge of conducting elections, preparing and updating the electoral roll and the redrawing of boundary lines respectively

    We in Pakatan Rakyat are sincere in wanting to improve our flawed electoral system. We are no hypocrites. The real hypocrites are those who say that they have done their jobs in running a clean, fair and competent election process but refuses to take responsibility for using indelible ink which washes off after a few hours. The real hypocrites are those who say that the Malaysian electoral roll is the ‘cleanest in the world’[6] when in fact examples of voters who cannot be traced to their voting addresses and voters who have been moved from one constituency to another without their knowledge are plentiful. The real hypocrites are those who say that past re-delineation exercises have been done transparently and fairly when in fact they have always been done in BN’s favour and in violation of even the EC’s own state principles and guidelines. The real hypocrites are those who want more power to enforce election laws and regulations but have not demonstrated any evidence of using what existing power they have in an impartial manner.

    The Pakatan Rakyat rally at Padang Merbok yesterday was organized to demonstrate our lack of confidence in the Election Commission and to demand for the resignation of the Chairman and the Deputy Chairman of the EC as well as the five other members of the Commission over the flawed conduct of the 13th general election. The Elections Petitions which have been filed by Pakatan Rakyat will also demonstrate other flaws and shortcomings in the conduct of elections during the 13th General Election in specific seats. And most, if not all, of the Pakatan Rakyat MPs will voice out our lack of confidence in the current Election Commission especially in its ability to be impartial and fair in conducting the upcoming re-delineation exercise.

    An Election Commission that fails to enjoy public confidence, as per Article 114 (2) of the Federal Constitution, should resign instead of being in denial and worst yet, accuse others who want to create a more transparent, fairer and cleaner electoral system of being hypocrites.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming

    MP for Serdang

  • Deputy Chairman of the Election Commission, Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar, is not qualified to talk about a ‘transparent’ re-delineation exercise

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, in Kuala Lumpur on the 31st of May, 2013

    Deputy Chairman of the Election Commission, Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar, is not qualified to talk about a ‘transparent’ re-delineation exercise

    It was reported in the Star[1] on the 26th of May, 2013, that Deputy Chairman of the Election Commission, Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar, had reassured the public of ‘utmost transparency’ in the upcoming re-delineation exercise. He also tried to defend the EC against allegations of gerrymandering constituencies in favor of the BN by saying that “Many people are unaware of how the review is conducted and merely believe some political parties which accuse us of not doing our job in accordance with the law”.

    The fact of the matter is that the Election Commission did not do their job in accordance with the law but was in fact heavily biased towards the BN during the 2003 re-delineation exercise when Wan Ahmad was also the Deputy Chairman of the EC. This was most obvious in the state of Kedah where no parliament and state seats were added (because the BN lost their 2/3rds control of the state assembly after losing the 2000 Lunas by-election) but boundaries were redrawn with the sole intention of helping UMNO win back some of the parliament seats which it had lost in the 1999 general elections.

    The Election Commission has tried to defend the disparity in the number of voters per seat by referring to the ‘rural weightage’ principle where rural areas, with poorer transportation networks and a larger area of coverage, should have a smaller number of voters compared to urban areas which are more compact and are more accessible.

    But in Kedah, during the 2003 re-delineation exercise, this principle was clearly violated. Non-Malay voters were moved out from the then safe seats of Alor Setar into the PAS held seats of Kuala Kedah and Pokok Sena. Non-Malay voters were moved out from the then safe seat of Merbok into the PAS held seat of Jerai. Pro-BN / UMNO majority areas in the then safe seat of Padang Serai were moved to the PAS held seat of Baling.

    Table 1: Disparity in the area and no of voters between urban and less urban seats in Kedah after the 2003 Re-Delineation Exercise

    Parliament Seat Area (km2) No of Voters in 2003 No of Voters in 2013
    P8 Pokok Sena 320 64192 80916
    P9 Alor Setar 109 56007 69189
    P10 Kuala Kedah 232 73942 95534
    P16 Baling 1544 73942 93376
    P17 Padang Serai 352 51778 74245

    This blatant gerrymandering on the part of the Election Commission was obvious when we compared the number of voters in and the area of coverage of these seats in 2003. For example, P9 Alor Setar, despite being the most urbanized seat with the smallest area (km2) among all parliament seats in Kedah, actually had fewer voters (56007) compared to the adjoining larger and less urban seats of P8 Pokok Sena (64912 voters) and P10 Kuala Kedah (73942 voters). This disparity can still be seen in the 2013 general election figures. Alor Setar now has 69189 voters compared to 80916 for Pokok Sena and 95534 for Kuala Kedah.

    The even more obvious case is that of P16 Baling, a largely rural seat in Kedah. The 2003 delimitation exercise increased the area of coverage for Baling from 1107 km2 to 1544 km2, which makes the size of the Baling seat slightly smaller than the entire state of Melaka. This was because one of the strong UMNO state seats in the adjoining Padang Serai parliamentary constituency – Kuala Ketil – was moved to Baling. The result was that Padang Serai, a much more urban seat, ended up with fewer voters (51778) compared to the much larger Baling (with 73942 voters). This disparity can still be seen from the 2013 GE figures. Baling now has 93376 voters (2nd largest in Kedah) compared to only 74425 voters for the more urbanized seat of Padang Serai.

    The rural weightage principal was clearly not followed by the Election Commission during the 2003 Re-Delineation Exercise in the state of Kedah.[2] In an ironic twist of fate, this blatant gerrymandering ended up hurting the BN in 2008 because the non-Malay voters who were considered hard core BN supporters, who would never vote for PAS, switched their votes to the opposition in the 2008 general elections.

    As someone who has studied the re-delineation exercise in detail, I can safely say that I am not one of the people ‘who are not aware of how the review is conducted’. Which is why I can also safely say that the Election Commission has anything but impartial in the 2003 re-delineation exercise. Among the Election Commission members, Wan Ahmad is the only one who was part of the EC during the biased 2003 re-delineation exercise. As such, he is the least qualified member of the EC to defend the EC’s record in ensuring a fair re-delineation exercise that will start at the end of the year. As long as Wan Ahmad is one of the members of the Election Commission who will oversee the upcoming re-delineation exercise, I have no confidence whatsoever that it will be done transparently, fairly and in accordance to the ‘one-man, one-vote’ principle.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    MP for Serdang


    [2] For a more in-depth analysis of the 2003 re-delineation exercise in Kedah, please see “Electoral Delimitation – A Case Study of Kedah”, Ong Kian Ming and Bridget Welsh in “Elections and Democracy in Malaysia”, Mavis Puthucheary and Norani Othman (eds), UKM Press, Bangi.

  • Police questioning me is another sign that the new Inspector General of Police, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, is determined to intimidate Pakatan Rakyat elected representatives and anti-BN Political Activists

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, in Kuala Lumpur on the 24th of May, 2013

    Police questioning me is another sign that the new Inspector General of Police, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, is determined to intimidate Pakatan Rakyat elected representatives and anti-BN Political Activists

    I was questioned by the police in my office in Seri Kembangan on Tuesday, 21st of May, 2013 over a report published in the Star Newspaper on Monday, 20th of May 2013, with the headlines “Take action against Kian Ming, voter told.”[1] I had earlier, on Sunday, 12th of May, in a press conference involving the Chinese press, asked that the Election Commission investigate the case of Chua Lai Fatt on whether he had been wrongly issued a Malaysian IC.[2] I made this request because Chua Lai Fatt was categorized as a Chinese voter but his appearance, as shown by his IC, did not indicate that he was of Chinese descent. When I found out that Mr. Chua was adopted by Chinese family as a baby in the Klang area, I issued a written apology to Mr Chua and his family.[3]

    I was surprised that firstly, the police is investigating me under Section 505c of the Penal Code which pertains to “statements conducing to public mischief”, specifically, “whoever makes, publishes or circulates any statement, rumour or report with intent to incite or which is likely to incite any class of community of persons to commit any offence against any other class or community of persons” since my statement to ask the Election Commission to investigate the case of Chua Lai Fatt was made one week after polling day and hence did not affect Chua Lai Fatt’s right to cast a vote. Nor did it lead to anyone taking any action to harm Mr Chua.

    I was also surprised that the police took such speedy action to question me especially when no one, including Mr. Chua, filed a police report against me. I was asked to give my statement just one day after the publication of the Star report. The Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) who was questioning me, Mr Tan, showed me the Star report and told me that they were investigating me based on that report rather than the report in the Chinese press which came out a week earlier. I wonder if the police are as quick to act when newspaper reports are published with potentially seditious remarks made by BN leaders? Or when members of the public or Pakatan Rakyat representatives make police reports based on potentially seditious remarks made by BN leaders?

    Based on the recent turn of events, including the charging of Seri Setia ADUN Nik Nazmi under the Peaceful Assembly Act, the charging of student activist Adam Adli under the Seditions Act, the arrests of Batu MP Tian Chua, ABU activist Haris Ibrahim and PAS member Tamrin Ghafar and ongoing investigations against them under the Seditions Act, the questioning of Taiping DAP MP Nga Kor Ming, Bilut DAP ADUN Chow Yu Hui, Ketari ADUN Lee Chin Chen, DAP lifetime advisor Chen Man Hin, and most recently, reports that Ipoh Timur DAP MP Thomas Su would be charged under the Peaceful Assembly Act, I cannot help but conclude that the newly minted IGP, Khalid Abu Bakar, with the blessings of the newly appointed Home Minister, Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, is conducting a coordinated effort to intimidate Pakatan Rakyat elected representatives as well as anti-BN political activists.

    I am confident that Pakatan Rakyat elected representatives and the anti-BN political activists will not be cowed by these intimidation tactics. These actions show that the BN is increasingly desperate and willing to resort to any and all measures in order to silence the voices of the majority of voters who supported Pakatan Rakyat in the 13th General Election.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    MP Serdang

  • Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and MP for Tanjong Karang Noh Omar should take a one week ‘Study Break’ abroad in order to understand the one-man-one-vote principle in First-Past-The-Post systems

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, in Kuala Lumpur on the 23rd of May, 2013

    Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and MP for Tanjong Karang Noh Omar should take a one week ‘Study Break’ abroad in order to understand the one-man-one-vote principle in First-Past-The-Post systems

    Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi shocked Malaysians when he asked those who were not satisfied with the results of the 13th general election to migrate to countries which practice the ‘list system’ or ‘single transferable vote’ electoral system.[1] MP for Tanjong Karang, Noh Omar, followed up by asking those who do not like Malaysia’s electoral system to go ‘live in the jungle’.[2]

    Rather than suggesting for loyal and patriotic Malaysians who want genuine electoral reform to leave the country or to live in the jungle, I strongly recommend that the Home Minister and the MP for Tanjong Karang take a one week study leave abroad in order to understand how other countries which practice the First-Past-the-Post electoral system follows the one-man-one-vote principle.

    The Home Minister is right when he said that we in Malaysia inherited the Single Member Constituency First-Past-The-Post electoral system from the United Kingdom upon independence. However, he failed to remember that the Reid Commission recommended a 15% maximum deviation limit from the national average in terms of the number of voters per constituency. He also failed to remember that prior to our independence, the maximum rural weightage allowed was 2 to 1 – which effectively means that the largest constituency can only have twice as many voters as the smallest constituency.[3] Instead, what we have now in Malaysia is a ‘bastardized’ form of the first-past-the-post electoral system where the largest constituency – P109 Kapar (144,369 voters in GE13) – has 9 times the number of voters of the smallest constituency – P126 Putrajaya (15,798 voters in GE13).

    Indeed, if the Home Minister had done his research, he would have realized that the United Kingdom passed a Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act in 2011 which specified that the maximum deviation in the number of voters per constituency can only be 5%.[4]

    In Australia, which uses the Alternative Vote (AV) in Single Member Constituencies, the maximum deviation in the number of voters per constituency is 10%. However, there is an additional, stricter rule which requires the Australian Election commission to project the number of voters per constituency 3 and a half years after a re-delineation exercise. This rule allows for a maximum of a 3.5% deviation.[5] The strict rules observed in Australia results in the one-man-one-vote principle being observed.

    For example, the largest constituency in Australia in terms of geographical area is Durack in Western Australia with 88177 voters when the last re-delineation exercise was conducted in 2008. Durack’s size is 1,587,758 square kilometres, which is almost 5 times the size of Malaysia. The smallest constituency is the constituency of Wentworth in New South Wales in the city of Sydney with 98979 in 2009 when the last re-delineation exercise was conducted. Wentworth covers approximately 30 square kilometres which is about the size of Ipoh Barat. The rural-urban weightage in Australia is 1.12. In other words, the number of voters in the smallest urban constituency is only 112% the number of voters in the largest rural constituency. If Australia, given its large geographic area, can follow the one-man-one-vote principle, there is no reason why Malaysia cannot follow suit.

    In Canada, an even bigger country in terms of geographical area, which also inherited the Single Member Constituency First-Past-the-Post electoral system from the British, the maximum deviation from the national average is 25%.[6]

    Before going on this one week study leave, the Home Minister and the MP for Tanjong Karang should also read the Report of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reform, paying special attention to points 20 and 22 which reads as follows[7]:

    20. BALANCED DELINEATION OF CONSTITUENCIES

    20.1. The Committee takes note of the proposed review on delineation of parliamentary and state constituencies by taking into account a balanced number of voters including rural weightage and also to fulfill the principle of ‘One Person, One Vote’.

    20.2. The Committee recommends that the EC reviews the Thirteenth Schedule of the Federal Constitution to give full meaning to the principle of “One Person, One Vote” and restore the rural weightage.

    20.3. The Committee recommends that the EC determines a fair and equitable formula based on a fixed principle in determining the number of voters in a constituency, to ensure that there are no huge disparities among other areas in the state.

    22. NEW ELECTION SYSTEM

    22.1. The Committee takes note that the electoral system practiced in Malaysia since Independence until now is Simple Majority System (FirstPast-The-Post).

    22.2. The Committee takes note of the proposal to improve the existing Simple Majority System (First-Past-The-Post) or study any other electoral system such as a mixture of system (First-Past-The-Post and Proportionate Representation) or a Proportionate Representation System.

    22.3. The Committee recommends that EC should study how to improve the current simple majority or first-past-the-post system as this proposal involves policy which needs to be considered by the Government and report back to the Committee as in paragraph 10.7.

    If the Home Minister and the MP of Tanjong Karang had paid close attention to the Parliamentary Select Committee’s Report, they would have realized that their own colleagues from Barisan Nasional including 3 current MPs – Dr. Maximus Ongkili (Kota Marudu), Alexander Nanta Linggi (Kapit) and Kamalanathan a/l Panchanathan (Hulu Selangor) – also agreed that there should be review of Malaysia’s electoral system including the fulfilment of the ‘One-Man, One-Vote’ principle and to study the possibility of implementing a more proportionate electoral system. Will the two Honorable Gentlemen also ask their colleagues from Barisan Nasional to migrate to another country or to move to the jungle?

    What makes this situation more tragic is the fact that the Home Minister also holds a PhD in Communications from UPM. One would have thought that he should have put his knowledge to better use by supporting electoral reform rather than blaming those who are merely pointing out the unfairness that exists in the current electoral system. He should also have known, given his wide travels around the world as Defense Minister and his academic credentials, that any party or coalition of parties which wins a majority of the vote in any first past the post system that is fair would enjoy a ‘seat bonus’. This means that if a coalition like Pakatan won 51% of the popular vote, we would have won more than 51% of total seats. Instead, we only won 40% of total seats as a result of the unfair delineation of boundaries.

    If the Home Minister and the MP for Tanjong Karang are too busy to take a one week study leave abroad, I would be more than happy to sit down with them for a one hour briefing to show them how other democratic countries using the First Past the Post system redraw their boundary lines in order to reduce the disparity in the number of voters per seat. I would also be glad to show the two honourable gentleman the ‘seat bonus’ effect in democratic countries which allows whichever party or coalition of parties who wins the majority of the popular vote to win a greater proportion of seats.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming

    MP for Serdang

  • While Pakatan Rakyat’s share of elected women’s representatives is higher than that of the BN’s, women’s representation in Parliament and State is still far short of the 30% target. Urgent electoral reform to introduce a proportional representation (PR) system is needed to increase women’s representation.

    Media Statement by Teresa Kok, Lim Lip Eng and Dr. Ong Kian Ming in Kuala Lumpur, 13th May, 2013

    While Pakatan Rakyat’s share of elected women’s representatives is higher than that of the BN’s, women’s representation in Parliament and State is still far short of the 30% target. Urgent electoral reform to introduce a proportional representation (PR) system is needed to increase women’s representation.

    In the recently concluded 13th General Elections, there were 56 female candidates out of 523 total candidates (10.7%) at the MP level, including independents and non-BN and non-PR (Pakatan Rakyat) parties. The BN fielded 22 female MP candidates. Pakatan also fielded 22 female MP candidates. At the ADUN level, there were 112 female candidates out of 1210 total candidates (9.3%). Pakatan Rakyat (PR) fielded 55 female candidates at the ADUN level while BN fielded 49 female candidates at the ADUN level.

    In terms of elected representatives, 13 out of 133 BN MPs are women (9.8%) while 9 out of Pakatan’s 89 parliamentarians are women (10.1%). At the state level, Pakatan’s women representation is higher than BN’s.  32 out of Pakatan’s 229 ADUNs (14%) are women while only 26 out of BN’s 275 ADUNs are women (9.5%).

    In terms of the breakdown of women representatives within the BN, UMNO clearly dominates. For example, 8 out of 13 BN female MPs (61.5%) and 25 out of 26 female ADUNS are from UMNO (96%). In Peninsular Malaysia, all 8 women MPs and 23 ADUNs are from UMNO. In other words, MCA, GERAKAN and MIC failed to have a single woman MP or ADUN elected into office in Peninsular Malaysia.

    In contrast, the distribution of female MPs and ADUNs is much more even within Pakatan. Of the 9 female Pakatan MPs, 3 are from PKR, 2 are from PAS and 4 are from DAP. Of the 32 female Pakatan ADUNs, 8 are from PKR, 6 are from PAS and 18 are from DAP.

    Of DAP’s 15 ADUNs in Selangor, 5 or one-third are females. Of the DAP’s 12 ADUNs in Johor, 4 are female. In addition, for the first time in DAP’s history, 3 female Indian representatives were elected into office, namely, Kasturi Patto (P46 Batu Kawan, Penang), Kamache A/P Doray Rajoo (N35 Sabai, Pahang) and Mary Josephine Prittam Singh (N22 Rahang, Negeri Sembilan). In addition, DAP also successfully fielded two women candidates in the same area – Teo Nie Ching in P163 Kulai and Wong Shu Qi in N22 Senai – both of whom won their seats with more than 10,000 votes.

    The DAP will continue to work hard in order to attract more capable female members into the party with the intention of fielding them in the next general election. The DAP is committed to increasing the opportunities for women leaders and candidates to gain political experience and exposure. For example, Teresa Kok, Lee Kee Hiong and Kasturi Patto gained invaluable experience as Lim Kit Siang’s political secretaries / assistants before they were elected into office. Mr. Lim also recently appointed Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud as his political secretary for Gelang Patah.

    The eventual goal is to achieve at least 30% female candidates and elected representatives. In order to achieve this, there needs to be a reform of the electoral system to a Proportional Representation (PR) system, which has been proven to be effective in other countries such as Norway and Finland to increase the number and % of female elected representatives.

    Teresa Kok, MP for Seputeh, Lim Lip Eng, MP for Segambut, Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang

    Appendix 1: List of Pakatan female MPs

    Appendix 2: List of Pakatan female ADUNs

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