A History of Malapportionment: How BN Can Win 59.9% Seats with 46.8% Votes

Our Merdeka Constitution originally provided for an independent EC to assign seats to each State based on population, and to divide each State into constituencies, such that the number of voters in each constituency should not deviate from the average in that State by more than 15%.

In 1960, the EC did its job so impartially that the Alliance Govt amended the Constitution to try to remove the EC Chairman. It failed.

In 1962, it amended the Constitution to retrospectively annul the 1960 redelineation and to require the EC to submit each new redelineation to the PM for the approval of the Dewan Rakyat, giving the PM a right to make modifications.

The 1962 amendment also changed the rural weightage so that urban constituencies could be up to twice the size of rural constituencies.

In 1973, the Constitution was amended to remove this limit altogether.

Both these amendments were supported by the MCA and MIC.

Hence, today within the same State, Kapar with 144,369 voters is nearly four times the size of Sabak Bernam, with 37,390 voters. 1 vote in Sabak Bernam is worth 4 votes in Kapar.

Before 1963, each State was allocated seats based on population and number of voters. In 1963, the Malaysia Act gave the States of Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore each a fixed number of seats, with 1/3 of the seats going to the new States to allow them to block constitutional amendments.

But that 1/3 blocking vote disappeared when Singapore left in 1965 (Sabah & Sarawak now have 25% of the seats).

In 1973, the Constitution was again amended to fix the number of seats given to each of the States and Federal Territories.

Although amended from time to time, the way that this has been done, in the most recent instance, has led to gross underrepresentation of Selangor, KL & Trengganu, and overrepresentation of Johore, Perak, Perlis and Pahang.

Correcting this would give Selangor alone an extra 6 seats and reduce by 6 in total the number given to Johore and Pahang.

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Andrew (@drewyong) is an afficionado of the poetry of Dr Seuss and the music of the Muppet Show. In his spare time he seeks to take over the world.

Posted on 7 May 2013. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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