Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Sarawak People Have Spoken

The 10th Sarawak state election results are out. Sarawakians have returned Barisan Nasional (National Front) back into power, amid claims by the opposition Pakatan of massive cheating and gerrymandering on the part of Barisan to win the election.

And now I am able to access Free Malaysia Today (FMT) website again, which I was unable to do yesterday. In fact, whenever I tried to access the website yesterday, I was led to Malaysia Today website instead! You tell me what was happening, I don't know.

Even though Barisan Nasional are back in power with a 2/3 majority in the state assembly, Pakatan have made some inroads, especially DAP who have doubled the number of seats won from 6 the last time around to 12 this time.

The final tally:

Barisan - 55 seats
DAP     - 12 seats
PKR     -  3  seats
Independent  - 1 seat

But in terms of percentage of votes won, the figures are telling. Barisan won 54.5 % of the popular votes out of a total of some 682,000 votes cast as against the opposition's 45.5% of the popular votes won. This means that although Barisan won only about 10% more of the popular votes they have been rewarded with a disproportionate number of seats.

This is because we do not have what is called proportional representation. So, a kampung with a population of say just 1000 people gets to have a state assemblyman to represent them whereas a town of say, 20,000 people may also get only one assemblyman to represent them due to constituency delineations.

Obviously it is not fair, but it is the electoral system practised here and in some other countries. What this means in effect, is that your one vote is not the same as my one vote. Your one vote may be worth several times mine or vice versa depending on where your/mine constituency is.

And in Malaysia, the value of your kampung vote is usually many times more than that of a town or city vote. And there are many more rural constituencies than urban ones.

Now that Sarawakians have spoken, I can only wish them the best for the next five years. But it is unfortunate that after some 50 so years of Barisan rule, Sarawak remains one of the poorest states in Malaysia, if not the poorest, even though it has vast natural resources like timber, petrochemicals and mineral deposits etc compared to other states in Malaysia.

And therefore it is even more puzzling why then, the people of Sarawak continue to support Barisan Nasional and dutifully vote them in come each election time.  

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