I admire the courage of the new Election Commission (EC) chief Datuk Seri Mohd Hashim Abdullah in asserting that “it is impossible for electoral fraud to take place (in Sarawak)”.
Hashim assured the public that one area with 150 voters will not have more than 150 votes cast. Such form of cheating is called ballot stuffing.
In the 2012 Russian election, one precinct even recorded a 107% turnout.
Only the naïve will confine electoral fraud to ballot stuffing.
But electoral manipulations take all forms — from phantom voters (impersonation), lopsided media coverage, abuse of government funds, to malapportionment and gerrymandering of constituencies.
Malaysians still remember Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s infamous “You help me, I help you” offer in the 2010 Sibu by-election to the voters who suffered from chronic flood problems.
Does Hashim dare to promise there will not be any “You help me, I help you” offer in Sarawak?
More than that, does Hashim not know of malapportionment and gerrymandering of constituencies in 2015, when he was the EC’s deputy chairman?
In December 2014, the Sarawak State Constitution was amended to increase the number of legislative seats from 71 to 82.
As Sarawak did not acquire new territories, there was no “addition” of new constituencies. Instead, there was only redivisioning of the “71 old constituencies” into “82 new constituencies”, even though 71 might retain the old names.
Common sense would suggest that the large constituencies would likely be split into smaller constituencies so that the “82 new constituencies” should have more equal electorate size than the “71 old constituencies”.
This, however, was not the cases. Bersih resource person Lee Wee Tak found that many small constituencies were to be smaller while many huge constituencies remain unchanged.
Take the parliamentary constituency of P200 Batang Sadong for example. A total of 15,145 voters cast their votes in the 2013 General Election, with 13,132 (86.71 per cent) supporting BN and 2,013 (13.29 per cent) choosing PR.
Then, P200 Batang Sadong which had 19,752 voters was divided into two state constituencies, N20 Sadong Jaya (8,633 voters) and N21 Simunjan (11,119 voters). (See Table 1)
These state constituencies’ average electorate size was 9,876, only 65 per cent of the state average, 15,267.
Sarawak did not have the state election in 2013, hence, we did not know the voters would have voted in the state contest. However, assuming the voters will vote for the same parties, then BN would have won both state constituencies with landslide, 89.32 per cent in N20 Sadong Jaya and 86.71 per cent in N21 Simunjan.
By the time of the 2015 redelineation exercise, the voters in P200 Batang Sadong rose to 20,977, by 1,225 or 9.42 per cent, which was higher than Sarawak’s electorate growth rate, 2.32 per cent.
But would this justify the redivisioning of P200 Batang Sadong into three state constituencies, which now had an average of 6,992 voters? (See Table 2)
Dropping sharply from their previous average of 9,876, the new average size, 6,992 was only 51.69 per cent of Sarawak’s state average, 13,526 voters.
And where are now the 15,145 voters in GE13 distributed in the three “new constituencies”?
Any surprise that, before adding in others voters (who would not make any difference anyway if they all vote opposition), BN supporters would make up 89.00 per cent of the GE13 voters in N24 Sadong Jaya, 82.17 per cent in N25 Simunjan and 86.10 per cent in N26 Gedong?
Thanks to this state-of-the-art malapportionment and gerrymandering, BN can win one more state constituency without extra effort.
And P200 Batang Sadong was just one of the 11 stories where “new constituencies” were added.
Hashim Abdullah, no electoral fraud in Sarawak? Yeah!
Wong Chin Huat