Jason Yong’s report of an anti-gerrymandering gameshop carried out by #SekolahAktivisme under UndiMsia! at Universiti Malaya.
On 18 December 2013, movers of UndiMsia! and #SekolahAktivisme carried out a gerrymandering gameshop at Universiti Malaya. This gameshop was in conjunction with a constitutional law lecture by Professor Dr. Johan Shamsuddin (Dean of UM Law Faculty), whereby YB Dr. Ong Kian Ming (MP of P102 Serdang) was invited to give a lecture on gerrymandering and malapportionment in Malaysia before the gameshop was carried out.
The evening started with an introduction by Professor Dr. Johan who introduced YB Dr. Ong and invited him to give his lecture. Beforehand, UndisMsia! movers gave out copies of a speech written by Vince Tan to the students of UM who were present.
In his lecture, Dr. Ong set out a brief history of gerrymandering — what it is, and how it affects citizens. He also gave a variety of statistics and graphs showing how gerrymandering and malapportionment works in other countries like the United States, and also in Malaysia.
Dr. Ong then went through a brief history of Malaysian elections and how the ruling coalition had always maintained a two-thirds majority, and hence did not need to engage in gerrymandering and malapportionment. However, he also highlighted an example of how gerrymandering occurred in Kedah in the 2003 elections.
Dr. Ong was of the opinion that this was not a very serious problem in Malaysia, but stressed that the competitiveness of the current elections may increase the possibility of this occurring.
Finally, Dr Ong rounded up the lecture by opening up a Q&A session to the floor.
Movers of #SekolahAktivisme led by Yuli Hoe then initiated the gerrymandering gameshop by asking for 20 volunteers. Students were initially reluctant, but achieving the number of volunteers was not a big problem.
Yuli then appointed one person as the Election Commission (EC) Chairman, and asked him to draw the constituency lines equally.
The process was then repeated with no restrictions, and with the intention of letting the other party win.
There was some confusion because the tape used to draw the constituency lines ran out. Hence, the lines were distorted and it became a bit confusing to see where the new, gerrymandered constituency lines were as compared to the old ones. The EC also needed a bit of help to be able to effectively redraw the new constituency lines.
However, overall we were able to explain how gerrymandering occurred.
After that, Hoe Jian You gave a speech petitioning the students to join UndiMsia! and #SekolahAktivisme.
YB Dr. Ong and our representatives were presented tokens of appreciation. The lecture ended on that note, and everyone was invited to the foyer for supper.