KUCHING, July 19: Democratic Action Party (DAP) Sarawak chairman Chong Chieng Jen’s special assistant Michael Kong welcomes the notion that one third of the total members of Parliament ought to be from Sabah and Sarawak.
Kong, in a press statement today, said at present Sarawak only has 31 seats whereas Sabah has 25 seats, and that is 18 seats shy from the one third proportion, which will be a fair reflection of the significance of Sabah and Sarawak.
According to Kong, the importance of this one third representation cannot be downplayed, (because) by having this representation, both Sabah and Sarawak will finally be able to have a loud voice when dealing with matters which may prove to be adverse to the interests of both states.
“Without a super majority, the members of Parliament from Peninsular Malaysia will not be able to pass constitutional changes that may affect our rights. While we welcome this, there must also be efforts at the same time to ensure that the additional seats would not come at the expense of the people or go against the ‘One Man, One Vote’ principle.
“Previously under the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) and Barisan Nasional (BN) government, we saw very lopsided demographics in favour of the ruling government. Collectively, the Kuching Division accounts for one fourth of the total population of Sarawak but only has six out of the current 31 Parliamentary seats,” he said.
Kong also noted that the disparity is even more striking, when looking into the individual Parliamentary seats.
For example, he noted that urban seats such as Bandar Kuching has 81,856 voters, Miri (80,386 voters), Sibu (74,149 voters), Stampin (66,240 voters), Bintulu (65,049) and Lanang (61,973 voters) as at 2018.
“When compared to the other Parliamentary seats such as Igan (19,592 voters), Lubok Antu (20,801 voters), Kanowit (21,022 voters), Lawas (21,297 voters), Batang Sadong (21,899 voters), Tanjung Manis (23,213 voters), we see the gross gerrymandering that the previous GPS and BN government partook.
“The last delineation in Sarawak was in 2015, meaning we can only redelineate boundaries in 2023. Pakatan Harapan (PH) was gearing towards reforms by having fairer electoral vote distribution and also empowering Sabah and Sarawak.
“The first step to do this was to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution but rather unfortunately, GPS chose to reject this amendment. If this had gone through, it would set things in motion for the empowerment of Sarawak,” said Kong.
He pointed out that priority should be given to larger constituencies such as Bandar Kuching, Miri, Sibu, Stampin, Bintulu and Lanang for more Parliamentary seats.
“There should also be a concerted effort to redelineate the Parliament seats so that there is a minimum of 25,000 voters and a maximum of 30,000 voters in each Parliamentary seat.
The present GPS and Perikatan Nasional (PN) should take this opportunity to fix the disparity and not continue the past practices of gerrymandering,” he added. –DayakDaily.