By Karen Bong
KUCHING, Sept 21: The restoration of the 35 per cent parliamentary seats for Sarawak and Sabah is vital as a special safeguard to protect the rights of the two Borneo States, because no one region should have the power to wield two-thirds majority or a supermajority in Parliament.
Minister of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah emphasised that with Sabah and Sarawak only holding 25 per cent of the seats currently, it means Peninsular Malaysia which holds 75 per cent or more than two-thirds of the seats can simply bulldoze their way through any constitutional amendment.
“It is important to note that, those familiar with the law will understand, certain amendments to the Constitution will require a two-third majority.
“On top of that, those related to the rights of the Malay will require the consent of the Conference of Rulers and those related to Sarawak and Sabah will require the consent of both the State governments, in order to have effect,” he said.
He highlighted this in a recorded press conference at Berjaya Times Square Hotel in Kuala Lumpur today during a visit to give moral support to the Sarawak Contingent participating in the 20th Malaysia Games (Sukma XX).
Abdul Karim pointed out that the seat quota held by Singapore should have been given to Sabah and Sarawak after Singapore exited Malaysia in order to maintain check and balance in Parliament.
While this raised the prospects of having a prime minister or deputy prime minister from East Malaysia in the future, he however opined that the appointments will need the support of parties that have won to form the government after a general election.
“I am not looking at it that far. But what’s more interesting and for which we are grateful, is the recent views where the Prime Minister and parties in the Federal government have agreed and acknowledged that Sarawak and Sabah should hold 35 per cent of the parliamentary seats,” he said.
Abdul Karim stressed that Sarawak is firm in its quest to reclaim the parliamentary seats and moreover, it is an assurance under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and Inter-Govermental Committee (IGC) Report to protect the rights of Sarawak, Sabah and Singapore (before it exited Malaysia).
“That’s why 35 per cent which is more or less equivalent to one-third is important as a special safeguard to protect the rights of Sabah and Sarawak,” he said. — DayakDaily