One Man, One Vote, Based on Race by Minister in charge of the Election Commission, Shahidan Kassim, will worsen and not improve ethnic problems in Malaysia

Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 1st of April, 2014

Yesterday, the Minister in Charge of the Election Commission, Shahidan Kassim, proposed a ‘one-man, one-vote, based on race’ electoral system whereby voters of one race will vote in a representative of the same race i.e. Malays will vote for Malay representatives, Chinese will vote for Chinese representatives and Indians will vote for Indian representatives. The Minister said that this proposal will reduce racial problems in this country.

The Minister’s proposal is ludicrous not just because it is undemocratic, unconstitutional and advocates for ‘electoral apartheid’, it will also worsen and not improve ethnic ties in this country. If Malay representatives are only voted in by Malay voters, they will more than likely only represent the views of their Malay electorate. Similarly for the Chinese representatives who are voted in by Chinese voters, Indian representatives by Indian voters, Iban representatives by Iban voters, Kadazan representatives by Kadazan voters and so on. This means that there will be no electoral incentives for elected representatives to consider the views of voters who are not from their own race. This will inevitably increase racial polarization rather than reduce racial problems.

Contrast this with the situation now where elected representatives from ethnically mixed or heterogeneous constituencies such as my own parliamentary constituency of Serdang (49% Chinese, 40% Malay, 10% Indian, 1% Others) where I have to listen to the views and opinions from voters from all races. Indeed, many Pakatan Rakyat representatives, especially in the urban areas, which are more ethnically heterogeneous or mixed, were voted in by voters of all races and thus have to take into consideration multiple political viewpoints on a number of issues. If race based voting and representation is implemented, elected representatives won’t even need to attend religious and cultural festivals of other races since these will not be their ‘own’ voters! Why should a Malay representative visit a Chinese or Indian temple or visit a church if all of their voters are Malay? Why would a Chinese representative break fast with Malays in the suraus and mosques if all of their voters are Chinese?

I call upon the Minister, who claims to have a PhD, to reveal to all Malaysians what sort of studies he has conducted to show that this system of ‘electoral apartheid’ will reduce racial problems in Malaysia. I also call upon the Minister to inform all Malaysians what other countries have successfully implemented this system of ‘electoral apartheid’ such that racial problems have been reduced.

If the Minister fails to show us sufficient proof of the workability of his proposal, it will confirm that he is not fit to be the Minister in charge of the Election Commission. I reiterate my call for him to resign and if he fails to do so, for the Prime Minister to ask for his resignation.

The Minister’s proposal was also supported by the MP for Kinabatangan, Bung Muktar, during this morning’s parliamentary debate. Since this proposal has been supported by two UMNO MPs, I call upon the Prime Minister to clarify if this proposal is supported by UMNO. I also call upon the leaders of the other non-UMNO parties in the BN to clarify if they support the Minister’s proposal.