Malaysia’s Parliament on Wednesday approved redrawn electoral boundaries despite protests that the ruling coalition was cheating to ensure victory in the upcoming general election. Embattled Prime Minister Najib Razak introduced the new electoral maps, which were approved with 129 lawmakers voting for them and 80 against. Scores of activists earlier protested outside Parliament, denouncing the new maps as gerrymandering that would widen inequality among constituencies and was based along racial lines to favor Najib’s ruling coalition. Activists say the changes mean that ruling party candidates will need fewer votes than opposition lawmakers to win elections. Activists and opposition leaders marched from a nearby park but were blocked from entering Parliament by riot police.
“This is the biggest cheating to ever happen,” said activist Maria Chin Abdullah, slamming the government for pushing through the changes despite ongoing legal challenges.
Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who now heads the opposition alliance, called Najib a “monster” and a “rogue.” ”These coming elections will most certainly not be clean,” he told the rally.
Najib told Parliament that the changes were proposed independently by the Election Commission based on geographical changes and denied there was political interference.