Sarawak still pursuing 35 pct Bornean parliamentary representation either through constitutional amendments or delineation review due this year

Composite photo shows Sharifah Hasidah (left) replying to questions raised by Lo (right) on the progress of 35 per cent parliamentary representation in the DUN sitting on May 18, 2023. Screenshots taken from a Sarawak Public Communications Unit Facebook livestream.

KUCHING, May 18: The Sarawak government remains committed to pursuing 35 per cent Sarawak and Sabah representation in Parliament which can be done either by amending Article 46 of the Federal Constitution or a delineation review by the Election Commission (EC) that could be due for Sarawak this year.

Minister in the Premier of Sarawak’s Department (Law, MA63 and State-Federal Relations) Datuk Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali disclosed that the amendment to Article 46 of the Federal Constitution would require a deliberate change in the composition of the Dewan Rakyat from the current 31 seats held by Sarawak to a higher number.

Sabah holds 25 seats and together with Sarawak only make up 56 seats out of the total 222 parliament seats, while Peninsular Malaysia states hold a total of 166 seats.

“This approach involves specifically altering the number of elected Members in Parliament to a larger number that will add up to 35 per cent of the total parliamentary representation,” she said when responding to a question from Batu Kitang assemblyman Lo Khere Chiang during the question-and-answer session in the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting here today.

Sharifah Hasidah added that another way was by delineation review pursuant to Article 113 of the Federal Constitution where the EC “shall from time to time as they deemed necessary review the division of the Federation and the States into constituencies.”

However, she explained that a redelineation exercise can only take place after an interval of not less than eight years, with the previous redelineation in Sarawak occurring in 2015, making 2023 the next available opportunity.

The proposal to increase the Bornean regions’ share of parliamentary seats to 35 per cent was initially presented during the meeting of the Special Council on Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MKMA63) on Sept 8, 2022.

It was agreed in this meeting that the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) at that time would bring forth the proposal to the Federal Cabinet meeting.

“However, on Oct 10, 2022, the Malaysia Parliament was dissolved to make way for the 15th General Election (GE15). After the establishment of the new federal government under the leadership of 10th Prime Minister Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim, a decision was made to replace the MKMA63 with the MA63 Implementation Action Council (MTPMA63) to further address the issue,” Sharifah Hasidah said.

On Jan 20, 2023, the first meeting of MTPMA63 was held, where it was proposed to establish a working committee chaired by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Legal and Institutional Reform).

This committee’s primary task would be to continue discussions on the proposed increase in parliamentary seats, as amending the Federal Constitution would require a policy decision.

“The Sarawak government will continue to pursue this matter to ensure a balanced representation in tandem with the original spirit and purpose of the formation of Malaysia in 1963,” Sharifah Hasidah added. — DayakDaily