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By Nur Ashikin Louis
KUCHING, March 13: Sarawak and Sabah aim to recover a 34.59 per cent share of parliamentary seats.
Minister In The Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Dato Sri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar took note that the claims for one-third of parliamentary seats by Sabah and Sarawak were not written in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) Report 1962, Cobbold Commission and Federal Constitution.
He said it was only mentioned in the IGC Report that the proportion of number of seats allocated respectively to Sarawak and to North Borneo (Sabah) should be maintained.
He explained that back in 1963, Malaya had 104 seats, while Sabah had 16, Sarawak had 24 and Singapore had 15; of which the total number of seats allocated for Sarawak, Sabah and Singapore totalled 55 or 34.59 per cent.
Meanwhile, Malaya had 65 per cent—short of a two-thirds majority—so it could not unilaterally amend the constitution (Article 159).
“However, Singapore exited Malaysia on Aug 7, 1965 and the vacant seats were not distributed to Sabah and Sarawak, leaving both regions at 25 per cent of seat allocation.
“This is what we are trying to recover so that the proportion of parliamentary seats for Sabah and Sarawak in 1963 is maintained at 34.59 per cent or over one-third of the total 222 seats in Parliament,” he said during an official visit to Kampung Tanjung Dato today.
Wan Junaidi who is also the Santubong MP further said that the federal government cannot just easily amend the law as the Federal Constitution under Article 113 has stated that a review will only be carried out once in eight years.
The last distribution review for Sarawak was in 2015 while for Sabah was in 2017. This means that Sarawak can only see the next redelineation exercise by 2023 onwards.
Wan Junaidi also mentioned that Sabah and Sarawak has their own committees led by the Sabah Chief Minister and Sarawak Premier respectively.
“Through this channel, we will be able to submit our application to the federal government led by the Prime Minister. If it is approved, the implementation of adding more seats will be done in stages,” he added.
Presently, Sarawak has 31 seats in Parliament and Sabah has 25 seats while Malaya has 166 seats, which means that Malaya automatically gets two-thirds majority in the Lower House at the expense of Sabah and Sarawak. — DayakDaily