Malaysian bid to redraw electoral boundaries sparks anger

2018-03-28 19:15
Protestors stand during a rally organised by Bersih calling to stop a bill to redraw electoral boundaries near the Parliament House in Kuala Lumpur. (Mohd Rasfan, AFP)

Protestors stand during a rally organised by Bersih calling to stop a bill to redraw electoral boundaries near the Parliament House in Kuala Lumpur. (Mohd Rasfan, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Kuala Lumpur – Hundreds of Malaysians protested on Wednesday at a government bid to redraw electoral boundaries as polls loom, with the opposition slamming the move as a "scandalous" attempt to steal the election.

The polls are expected within weeks and Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak is battling to keep his long-ruling coalition in power despite allegations that billions of dollars were looted from a sovereign wealth fund founded by him.

The electoral constituency bill was due to be tabled in parliament on Wednesday, two days after the government proposed a law to combat "fake news" carrying a maximum 10-year jail term, that critics said was aimed at stifling dissent.

Electoral authorities say redrawing boundaries is a regular exercise that must be undertaken to reflect demographic changes.

However the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, which has been in power since independence in 1957, has long been accused of rigging the electoral map to help it in polls, and the plan sparked accusations of gerrymandering.

About 200 protesters marched on parliament, waving signs that read "stealing an election is not winning an election" and "we will not be silenced".

'Scandalous'

"It is scandalous. It amounts to vote rigging because the new electoral boundaries will result in the election favouring Barisan Nasional," Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, deputy leader of the opposition coalition Pact of Hope, told AFP.

"We believe an election victory may be stolen from us."

The opposition alleges that the plan to redraw boundaries will see voters who traditionally favour them lumped together in larger constituencies, creating smaller constituencies packed with pro-BN voters – particularly the country's Muslim Malay majority.

But Abdul Rahman Dahlan, minister in charge of economic planning, denied the claims.

"Each time the redrawing of constituencies is done, the opposition cries foul," he told AFP.

The bill needs to be backed by a majority of MPs to pass and is expected to do so as BN has most seats in the 222-seat parliament.

Despite the scandal surrounding state fund 1MDB, Najib is tipped to win another parliamentary term due to alleged vote-rigging and his coalition's strong grip on the electoral machinery.

He is however facing a strong challenge from the opposition's candidate, veteran ex-leader Mahathir Mohamad, 92, who is still popular with rural voters.

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter

Read more on:    malaysia  |  elections

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.