Former Election Commission (EC) chief Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman shouldn't be asking political parties to work around a flawed electoral system, but should instead ensure the system is fair says Bersih.

"The key word (Abdul Rashid used) is 'exploit'. The system should be fair to everyone, it should not be a question of exploiting the weaknesses or deficiencies," Bersih steering committee member Andrew Khoo told Malaysiakini when contacted.

election monitoring group pemantau  bersihKhoo (right) was responding to Abdul Rashid's comments that political parties should not blame electoral boundaries for their losses and should instead develop a strategy to capitalise on the system.

Pakatan Rakyat has blamed gerrymandering for only securing 40 percent of the parliamentary seats despite winning 51 percent of the popular vote to BN's 47 percent.

Abdul Rashid in an interview with Malaysiakini cited the legal, circumstantial and environmental constraints in the redelineation process which was last done in 2002 and used for the 2013 general election.

Khoo said he did not believe there is any legal constraint for a fair redelineation process and even if the "circumstantial and environmental" constraints were in the form of political pressure, it should not be a consideration for an independent body like the EC.

"The primary concern for the EC is whether or not there is equality of representation," he said.

Khoo pointed out that today, the larger parliamentary seats can be up to 400 percent larger than the smaller ones.

He also reiterated that the redelineation process can only be conducted after the electoral roll has been properly cleaned.

‘Gerrymandering was a factor’

Echoing this was DAP political strategist Ong Kian Ming who said the EC should ensure the electoral system is up to international standards and not play political strategist.

Ong (below) had earlier pointed out that with the present delineation, the federal government can be formed with only 20 percent of the votes by winning 112 of the smallest constituencies.

NONEAbdul Rashid in his interview commented saying the DAP should instead tailor its strategy to win those constituencies.

"If this is coming from a political strategist, then it is acceptable. But this is the former EC chairperson and the emphasis should have been making the system conform to international standards.

Ong reiterated his call for the current EC leadership to reintroduce the maximum limit between the smallest and largest constituencies in the country.

Ong added that Abdul Rashid's dismissive claims that gerrymandering was not a factor in the outcome of the last general election by citing Pakatan's wins in Selangor, Penang and Kelantan was not accurate.

"In Selangor, currently there are 10 parliamentary seats with more than 100,000 voters.

"If we do a simplistic calculation, these seats should be split into half and if Pakatan also wins these seats, that would be then more (seats for Pakatan)," he said.

These extra seats in Selangor alone would have brought the opposition coalition closer to federal power, he said.


Ong, who is Serdang MP, said it would be best to set up a parliamentary select committee for the upcoming exercise later this year as it will require bipartisan support to pass the redelineation through Parliament.

He also welcomed the current EC's plans to introduce new voter registration laws and hopes that political parties from both BN and Pakatan will be engaged in formulating them.-malaysiakini