Hornbill Unleashed

November 13, 2014

‘Sabah and Sarawak must have 35pct of MPs’

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 8:00 AM
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Joseph Tawie

State Reform Party (Star Sabah) has demanded that more parliamentary seats be given to Sabah and  Sarawak in order to restore their constitutional safeguards.

“Whatever the formula or basis of the new redelineation exercise, Sabah and Sarawak must be given 35 percent of the parliamentary seats to restore their constitutional safeguards,” Star Sabah chief Jeffrey Kitingan said in a statement today.

“Peninsular Malaysia should not be given more than 65 percent of the seats, as agreed upon at the outset of the formation of Malaysia,” Kitingan said in reference to the proposed redelineation being undertaken by the Election Commission (EC).

In a statement, Jeffrey, who is the Bingkor assemblyperson said that in the formation of Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak were provided constitutional safeguards in 1963 to ensure the special position of the Borneo states.

Jeffrey said this was the basis on which they agreed to form Malaysia.

These safeguards were put to ensure that the special rights of Sabah and Sarawak would not be diluted or removed over time by the federal lawmakers from Peninsular Malaysia, he said.

In paragraphs 190(g), 165 and 236(a)(i) of the Cobbold Commission Report, it was recommended by the representatives of the the then Malayan government, and concurred by their British counterparts, that ‘representation of the Borneo territories in the federal government shall take account not only of their populations but also of their size and potentialities’.

Devious manipulation

The ratio of parliamentary seats for Peninsular Malaysia has been deviously manipulated through the years, from 65 percent in 1963 (with 104 out of 159 seats) to the current 75 percent (with 166 out of 222 seats), which renders constitutional safeguards meaningless for Sabah and Sarawak, he said.

“This veto power of the Borneo states was unlawfully removed through the dilution of the 35 percent of MPs without the concurrence of the Sabah government, and in breach of the recommendations of the Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) and agreed upon by the founding fathers of Malaysia,” Jeffrey said.

He quoted paragraph 30(1) of the IGC Report which states that:‘Constitutional Safeguards 30 (1): It is mentioned in other parts of this Report that the Federal Constitution should provide that certain provisions relating to the Borneo states should not be amended or repealed without the concurrence of the government of the state concerned. These provisions relate to immigration, citizenship, representation in the Federal Parliament and the High Court of the Borneo states.’

Jeffrey said: “So far all focus on the re-delineation is upon the number of voters in a given constituency, as though Sabah and Sarawak are not important in the exercise. Without Sabah and Sarawak, there would have been no Malaysia.

“The number of voters in Peninsular Malaysian constituencies is not the sole criterion, so what are the MPs from the peninsula talking about?” he asked.

In Peninsular Malaysia, the parliamentary seat of Putrajaya, with an area of about 49sq-km, only has 15,791 registered voters in the last election and the MP is now a minister.

“In comparison, the Keningau parliamentary constituency which comprises my Bingkor state
seat and two others, has 43,691 voters over an area of 3,533sq-km.

“Keningau is larger than the combined area of Penang, Malacca and Perlis (3,505sq-km) – all of which have 26 MPs.

“Imagine the disparity in allocations for the MPs and development funds, where Keningau with one MP gets pittance compared to the 26 MPs,” Jeffrey said.

Rectify disparity

He pointed out that the disparity was even greater for the parliamentary constituency of Kinabatangan, an area of 16,658sq-km, and represented by a single MP.  Its size is larger than the combined area of Kelantan (14,882sq-km) and Malacca (1,650sq-km).

“Therefore, the proposed re-delineation exercise to be announced by the EC at the end of this year should rectify the past mistake and restore the special position of Sabah and Sarawak in the federation.” added Jeffrey.

“If the PM and his BN government want Sabah and Sarawak to remain as equal partners in the Malaysia, the time has come for them to insist to the EC that 35 percent of the MP seats should go to Sabah and Sarawak in the re-delineation exercise.

“I believe that the opposition Pakatan Rakyat will have no objections restoring the autonomy of Sabah and Sarawak,” he added.


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