Malapportionment − The biggest electoral fraud

In its eight demands for reform for a clean and fair electoral system, Bersih has overlooked the single most important dishonest feature built into the present system by BN – malapportionment, which is the systematic variation in the size of electoral constituencies resulting in disproportionate and large representation for BN in Parliament. Fig. 1 shows how this has worked in the 2008 Parliamentary Elections. Each column (or vertical line) in the graph represents a parliamentary constituency. The number of registered voters in it is indicated by its height. Constituencies won by BN and the opposition are shown as blue and red columns respectively.
120000

2008 Parliamentary Constituencies
100000

Kapar

PR BN
80000

No. of registered voters
60000 Av. Voters / Constituency = 49,119 40000

Putra Jaya

20000

0 1 BN won uncontested 51 101 151 201

Parliamentary Constituencies ranked by size

Fig. 1: No. of registered voters in each Parliamentary constituency
In the chart, the constituencies are arranged in order of size, with the smallest on the left to the biggest on the right. Exceptions are the first eight on the left which have been won by BN uncontested. It is at once clear in this chart that BN constituencies are generally much smaller than PR constituencies. Since there is no valid reason why bigger constituencies tend to
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back PR and smaller constituencies vote for BN, the only plausible explanation is that BN has carved out its strongholds into small and therefore many more constituencies while opposition strongholds are lumped together into larger and therefore fewer constituencies. This form of electoral fraud is so effective that BN could have won 51% of the seats in Parliament in the 2008 Elections with a mere 15.4% of the popular votes counted when the eight uncontested seats are included in the overall tally as shown in Fig. 2 where the number of BN MPs as a percentage of the total is plotted against the number votes received by BN again as a percentage of the total votes cast, starting with the smallest to the largest constituency.
70

60

No. of BN MPs vs votes for BN (2008 General Elections)

50

BN Parliamentary majority
40

30

20

10

0 0 5 10 15 20 25

BN votes (% of total votes)

Fig. 2: How BN needed only 15.4% of the votes to win
What it means in terms of voter’s right is that those who live in opposition strongholds had their rights strongly diluted. This is clearly illustrated in the comparison between Putra Jaya, a BN stronghold with only a total of 6608 registered voters, and Kapar an opposition area with 112,224 registered voters. If Kapar had been divided into constituencies of the same size as Putra Jaya, Kapar voters could have sent up to 17 MPs to Parliament instead of just one.

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When BN strongholds are consistently subdivided into small constituencies and opposition areas are equally consistently lumped into super-sized ones, the opposition is systematically and effectively emasculated. The average number of voters in each BN-held constituency is 39,179 voters compared to the opposition’s average of 63,016 which is 60% higher. If all constituencies had about the same number of voters and the number of BN MPs remained at 139, the number of opposition MPs could very well increase by up to 60%, or to 133 MPs. That would be quite a change of political landscape which of course BN would never allow! This is why the equal sizing of constituencies must be one of Bersih’s demands for reforms to make the electoral system clean and fair. Even if all Bersih’s eight other demands were met but nothing is being done for fairer apportionment of constituencies, BN would remain in power forever. The pervasiveness and systematic execution of BN’s chicanery in this aspect of the electoral system is all the more obvious when the same analysis is applied to individual states as shown below1. Within each state, the probability of a BN candidate winning an election varies with the location of his constituency within the chart; the further left on the chart (i.e. the smaller the constituency) the greater his chance of winning. Therefore, the constituency to which a BN candidate is assigned to within a state is an indication of his value or dispensability to the BN leadership.

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No analysis for Perlis where BN won in all three Parliamentary constituencies.

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