Changing the electoral system to make every vote count

There have been hundreds of forwarded messages circulated on social media and messaging apps urging people to register as voters. This is not enough. Malaysians must stop being in denial and accept that our current electoral system is not working for the people anymore. There is a need to change the electoral system to make sure every vote matters.

Prior to European colonialism, the Edo people in Benin, Africa were the world leaders in producing the finest bronze sculptures. Their secret was to make the finest clay mould before pouring the molten bronze. The Edo people of Africa highlighted that great moulds were necessary to produce great bronze sculptures.

Malaysian cannot continue to demand for clean politicians within a morally corrupted system. This political system will either corrupt or reject good people. In 2019, the ‘inclusive’ Syed Saddiq and Khairy Jamaluddin had attended Kongres Maruah Melayu. The current political system demands racism and chauvinism, so it was do or die for their political career.

The first past the post (FPTP) system practiced in Malaysia is the crudest form of democracy. The MPs and ADUNs are chosen based on winning a plurality of votes cast in a particular constituency. Henceforth any votes for other any other parties are discarded. The key to winning is by appealing to the biggest group by belittle the minorities. FPTP rewards “divide and rule” campaign.

FPTP produces a political system centred on right-wing populism such as racism, xenophobia, religious bigotry and welfarism. Right-wing populism is a common feature for FPTP nations such as United Kingdom and India. Ironically, the latest general election campaign in the world biggest coloniser, United Kingdom resulted in a right-wing populist victory and independence from the European Union.

Gerrymandering is the root of the FPTP system’s problems. FPTP leads to lower voter turnout as one vote does not make much difference. Collectively, FPTP allows political parties to come into power with a small number of votes. In GE-1959, UMNO-MCA-MIC won 72% of seats with just 52% of votes cast, and only 37% of the total registered voters.

The FPTP system creates weaknesses within the legislative process. During the 14th General Election, Pakatan Harapan won 93% of state assembly seats with just 67% of votes in Penang’s DUN. Barisan Nasional won 88% of state assembly seats with just 62% of votes from the 2016 Sarawak State Election. A weak opposition grants unilateral political powers to amend the constitution to a single political coalition.

Career politicians argue the need for direct representation to serve the constituency to retain the FPTP electoral system. At the micro-level, career politicians ‘serve’ the constituency by giving out hampers, rice-bags, or conducting cooking class to popularise themselves at the constituency. However, the real job these ADUNs and MPs should be doing is to make macro policies.

Malaysia must adopt Proportional Representation (PR) at state and federal levels to make every votes count. In a PR system, people vote for the party so any party with 0.5% of the national vote receives 0.5% of total MPs.

The federal election must divide into 2 regions whereby East and West Malaysia gets 1/3 and 2/3 of total Parliamentary representatives. A PR system also prevents elected representatives from jumping to other parties for money after elections. The inability for a single party to garner an ultra-majority with small vote swing prevents unilateral amendments of the constitution.

Malaysians need to focus on demanding for progressive democratic system by making sure every vote counts. Malaysia must prioritise the adoption of the Proportional Representation (PR) electoral system.

SHARAN RAJ
Central Committee
Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)
&
State Secretary
Parti Sosialis Malaysia Negeri Melaka (PSM Melaka)

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