KUALA LUMPUR: The delineation of electoral boundaries needs to be expedited as many constituencies have experienced distinct demographic changes over the years, especially in the urban areas.
For some observers, a lapse of 10 years since the last delineation exercise is too long and would impact the people.
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) geostrategy lecturer Professor Dr Azmi Hassan said that within 10 years, many parliamentary and state constituencies especially in the urban areas had seen demographic changes due to population increase, with some areas having over 100,000 voters.
“When this happens, some areas have so many residents but have only one elected representative to serve them. Hence, a situation exists where the elected representative cannot serve them effectively,” he said.
Azmi said a delineation exercise would see new parliamentary and state constituencies created, therefore more elected representatives need to be chosen to carry the people’s voice more effectively.
“Most importantly, the Election Commission (EC) needs to ensure that the delineation of electoral boundaries will result in increased parliamentary and state seats in odd numbers, as even numbers can cause difficulties when there’s a general election or a political conflict,” he said.
Azmi said the EC should speed up the delineation exercise for the good of the people, as election law stipulates that delineation of electoral boundaries should be carried out every eight years, while the last one was done in 2003.
Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) political and international studies lecturer Md Shukri Shuib opined that with delineation, the elected representatives could better focus on their constituencies with a small area to cover and smaller number of voters to serve.
“When an area is smaller, the ‘wakil rakyat’ will be able to visit more villages and go to more locations to meet the constituents, as well as to monitor the area’s development in a more comprehensive manner.
“In Sabah and Sarawak, for example, there are constituencies that are vast in size but have a small electorate. The huge area makes it difficult for the elected representative to cover every location.
Md Shukri, however, did not deny that the EC faces a difficult challenge in undertaking the delineation exercise as the Barisan Nasional ruling government had constraints in getting a two-thirds majority in the Dewan Rakyat to pass the EC report for delineation to be carried out.
In this regard, he hopes the opposition parties will set aside political differences and support the proposed delineation exercise in the interest of the people.
Political analyst Professor Dr Hoo Ke Ping said if the delineation of electoral boundaries is not done, there would be constituencies with more than 150,000 voters each in the next few years.
Hoo suggested that the EC increase the number of parliamentary seats by between 10% and 15% or by between 25% and 30% in anticipation of a population increase in the years to come. — Bernama
This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on November 6, 2014.