Malaysia’s electoral authorities are rushing through new maps that critics say will further tilt the bias in favour of the long-ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) at a general election expected within the next few months. Despite 16 months of protests and a record number of objections and court cases to declare the Election Commission’s (EC) proposals illegal, Prime Minister Najib Razak is expected to table new maps in Parliament next month, the last session scheduled before polls must be held. The EC’s redelineation exercise came under fire when a first proposal was unveiled in September 2016 for worsening malapportionment – the difference in the number of voters between wards – and shifting voters to ensure more victories for BN, which surveys say is at its most unpopular since Datuk Seri Najib took over nine years ago.
The boundaries, if redrawn, will affect more than half of Malaysia’s parliamentary and state legislative seats.
Critics say the changes will shift voters from marginal constituencies into opposition strongholds that are packed with more than 100,000 voters but still only represent a seat each in Parliament. Meanwhile BN-controlled seats, like Putrajaya, could have as few as 17,000 voters.