35 pct parliamentary seats important to maintain check and balance, says Nanta

Nanta speaking at a press conference.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Sept 9: The endorsement to restore 35 per cent or one-third of parliamentary seats for Sarawak and Sabah is significant to maintain check and balance in Parliament, especially in deducting Peninsula Malaysia’s sole power to push through any amendment to the Constitution that could affect the two Borneo States.

Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Dato Sri Alexander Nanta Linggi emphasised this in welcoming the news that the fifth meeting of the Special Council on Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) has allowed Sarawak and Sabah to hold 35 per cent of parliamentary seats.

“Sarawak and Sabah should have more than one-third of parliamentary seats as enshrined in MA63, which is the foundation in the formation of Malaysia.

“Now, we are just trying to restore to the right position. However, it is significant and important because if there is any attempt to amend the Constitution that affects Sarawak and Sabah, then Peninsular Malaysia cannot just do it on their own,” he told reporters today.

He was met when officiating at the closing ceremony of the Score Access Road to Tunoh in Kapit Project Stakeholders Engagement Workshop held at Land Custody and Development Authority (LCDA) Complex’s auditorium today.

Nanta, who is also Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) secretary-general, pointed out that because Sarawak and Sabah do not command more than one-third of the parliamentary seats at the moment, any amendment to the Constitution that requires more than two-thirds majority can be done simply by Peninsular Malaysia.

“But this (restoring rights of Sarawak and Sabah) is nothing about competing with Peninsular Malaysia. It is about maintaining check and balance. When we started Malaysia, we were in that position.

“So to hear that this has been endorsed, it is welcome news that should be good for the country,” he added.

Meanwhile, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Sabah and Sarawak Affairs) Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili announced last night (Sept 8) that the Special Council meeting, which was chaired by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, has agreed to honour the MA63 and Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) Report by allowing Sarawak and Sabah to hold 35 per cent of the parliamentary seats.

However, Onggkili pointed out that more engagement will be required about the issue, especially among serving Borneo legislators and legal practitioners.

Currently, Peninsular Malaysia states hold a total of 166 seats or 75 per cent, while Sarawak has 31 seats and Sabah 25 seats which only make up 25 per cent of the total 222 parliamentary seats. — DayakDaily