For those of you with a subscription to Malaysiakini, you should read Ramesh Rajaratnam's piece on gerrymandering in Malaysia (http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/229578). It answers a few of the questions I had difficulty getting information on.
Having said that his piece seems a bit inconsistent with the following (http://aceproject.org/ace-en/topics/bd/bdy/bdy_my). Thanks to Voo Phin Sang for pointing this out.
First, every 10 years or so electoral boundaries are re-drawn with a simple majority vote in parliament. So BN will continue to pass through its preferred boundaries without some support from PR. However, it will no longer be able to add new seats without a 2/3rds majority. This suggests that PR will continue to face a Herculean task in forming govt, requiring close to 60% of the popular vote to form government (according to Rajaratnam) if the populace remains are divided in the next election as we see today and indeed, during the 2008 election.
In the past, Malaysia's electoral boundaries were set up to ensure that the population difference between the smallest and largest constituencies would not exceed 20% (according to Rajaratnam but 15% according to the other article). This was set up to ensure rural constituencies would not be disadvantaged vis-a-vis urban seats, but constitutional amendments in 1962 and 1973 rendered these obsolete. The latter article suggests that these leads to an advantage to Malays in regard to seat allocations being greater in Malay areas but I would think that the migration to urban areas have probably dampened these a bit. As Rajaratnam shows in his article, the gaps in some cases are not far off 10 times the case. For example the 3 smallest parliamentary seats (all BN held) are 15,800 in Putrajaya, Igan (18,000) and Lubok Antu (19,000). The three largest, all PR held are Kapar (144,000), Serdang (133,000) and Gombak (123,000).
This disparities must now be heavily highlighted should we wish to see a fairer representation in parliament. Pressure must be applied so as to ensure that electoral boundaries are set up in a fair and transparent manner. Some countries like Australia have done it by removing the decision making power away from politicians into the hands of independent bodies. Of course, in Malaysia we know how 'independent' these bodies are. Nevertheless, they can have little choice but to carry out such reforms if the rules set up for them to follow are clear and unambiguous.
The worst thing we can do is to let parliament decide. The Economist magazine is always highlighting the gerrymandering of seats in California in favour of the party in power at the time boundaries are due to be re-drawn, thus indicating that this is not just an issue for countries with less accountability. Make no mistakes, politicians are the same globally. If we are to have elections where every vote has the potential to have equal representation, it is imperative that the current parliamentary system which sets the boundaries is abandoned in favour of a non-partisan system of creating boundaries. I can imagine that if PR forms government they will also happily gerrymander the system to suit their interests.