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By Ashley Sim
KUCHING, Sept 19: A by-election must be held for the N67 Jepak state constituency seat as there is still more than two years before the automatic dissolution of the current DUN Sarawak.
Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) Speaker Tan Sri Datuk Amar Mohammad Asfia Awang Nassar stated at a press conference held today at DUN Sarawak here that a letter dated today (Sept 19) was sent to Election Commission (EC) chairman Tan Sri Abdul Ghani Salleh informing the latter of an unexpected vacancy in N67 Jepak.
The Jepak seat is vacant following the passing of its assemblyman Datuk Talib Zulpilip at the age of 72 on Sept 15, 2023.
“Whenever the seat of an elected member has become vacant for any reason other than a dissolution, the vacancy shall, within 60 days from the date on which it is established by the Election Commission that there is a vacancy, be filled by election in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution,” Mohammad Asfia said, quoting Article 21(5) of the State Constitution.
He noted that the DUN will leave it to the EC to decide the dates for the by-election in Jepak through discussion among themselves.
“In this case in Jepak, since it is outside two years (before automatic dissolution of the DUN), there will be a by-election.
“I had, through email online communicated with the chairman of the Election Commission, informing him that there is a vacancy.”
Mohammad Asfia also stated that the by-election must be held in order to be fair to the constituents of Jepak.
“There is no choice. You have to fulfil the constitutional requirement that the seat has to be filled through a by-election, to be fair to the constituents in that area that they have a YB (elected representative) who looks after them.
“Otherwise, there is no YB to look after the area. And it is outside two years, quite a long time,” he added.
The DUN Speaker also disclosed he waited a few days to call for the press conference out of respect for the late Talib.
“It is such a tragic event, it was unexpected. The YB was young. So I took a few days to let things settle down before I called this press conference today.”
The late Talib was a former Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department (Integrity and Ombudsman).
He had served as an assemblyman for Jepak since 1996, a total of 27 years.
According to Mohammad Asfia, the late Talib was among the longest serving state assemblymen in the current DUN.
Sarawak held its 12th State Election on Dec 18, 2021 after the dissolution of the previous assembly on Nov 3, 2021.
“The term of the 19th Sarawak State Assembly will end on Feb 14, 2027 and the House will then automatically dissolve on the same date,” the DUN Speaker added. — DayakDaily