‘One man one vote’ impractical, Election Commission says


(Malay Mail Online) – The “one man one vote” concept recommended by the Parliamentary Select Committee of Electoral Reform in 2012, is not practical, Election Commission (EC) chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusuf said.

In an interview with Malay daily Berita Harian published today, he implied that to implement the “one man one vote” system, the different constituencies had to have the same amount of voters, which is not possible.

“The people who had recommended this actually want equal number of voters in every constituency, with a maximum difference of 15 per cent.

“How can we implement this because of the different sizes of the constituencies.

“In determining the constituencies, the EC has to be practical. We split into three parts, namely urban, semi-urban, and rural areas,” he was quoted saying.

The former civil servant attributed it to the urban-rural population discrepancy, pointing out that there are far more people living in cities and towns than in the countryside.

“So we can not equate the parliamentary or state assembly, in semi-urban and urban to rural areas,” he said in the interview.

Abdul Aziz said it would be unfair to the elected representatives in the rural areas for the EC to roll out the recommended system as they would have a far larger area to cover, making it tougher to reach out to voters in those seats.

He also said that it was unfair because there are more facilities in urban areas compared to rural areas.

“Meaning, don’t fight for something because it’s a populist policy. Be practical,” he said.

In March, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim said the principle of equal legislative representation of “one person, one vote” is not suitable for Malaysia unless it is implemented in accordance with the country’s multi-racial composition.

He told the Dewan Rakyat that the concept recommended by Parliamentary Select Committee of Electoral Reform in 2012 “does not reflect on justice”.

In his response to Shahidan, DAP lawmaker Anthony Loke pointed out to the minister that his question had been on the value of each vote and not on which race dominates.

The minister in charge of parliamentary affairs told the House that there are many models of the “one person, one vote” concept that a number of countries have adopted.

The most suitable for Malaysia, however, is the model that uses racial division, he insisted.

In Election 2013, Barisan Nasional (BN) retained federal power when it snapped up 133 seats to Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) 89 seats despite losing the popular vote. Of the total number of votes cast, the ruling pact only scored 49 per cent to PR’s 51 per cent.

According to findings by Bersih 2.0’s People’s Tribunal, a panel set up by the polls watchdog to investigate alleged irregularities during the polls, a vote for BN was given 1.6 times the weightage given to a vote for PR.

The panel has proposed to minimise this disparity by amending laws on the criteria that determine the size of urban and rural constituencies.