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Borneo, Malaysia, Sarawak, Sarawak Politics, Sarawakian

Government considers increasing parliamentary seats for Sarawak and Sabah

THE Federal Government will consider increasing the number of parliamentary seats held by Sarawak and Sabah.

This is after the Parliamentary Service Committee (PSC) announced that it would recommend the Election Commission (EC) ensure Sarawak and Sabah get 34 per cent of seats during the next redelineation exercise.

At present Sarawak has 31 parliamentary seats and Sabah has 25 parliamentary seats. That’s 56 seats or 25 per cent out of a total 222 parliamentary seats.

PSC chairman — Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili — said the issue goes back to history when the two states should hold at least one-third of the total parliamentary seats in accordance with the policy and spirit of the Malaysia Agreement.

PSC member and Kapit Member of Parliament Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi agreed that the 34-66 per cent formula of power-sharing should be brought back.

He also suggested additional new rural boundaries to enable the voices of the rural people to be heard.

When the PSC was in Sabah, Barisan Nasional component, United Pasok-Momogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (UPKO) took things one step further.

UPKO secretary-general Datuk Wilfred Madius Tangau said a careful analysis of the geographical sizes of East and West Malaysia showed that Malaya with a land size of 131,598 sq km was allocated 166 seats as opposed to Sabah and Sarawak, with a total of 198,081 sq km, being allocated with a mere 56 seats.

In this respect, he said Upko proposed that Sabah be given 35 parliamentary seats (an additional 10) and Sarawak 52 parliamentary seats (an additional 21), making it a total of 87 seats for Sabah and Sarawak.

“With 87 seats (Sabah and Sarawak) versus 166 seats for Peninsular, it will no longer be possible for members of parliament from Peninsula to amend the Federal Constitution, without the support from Sabah and Sarawak,” said Datuk Madius.

Eighty-seven out of 166 seats would mean 52 per cent of the total parliamentary seats. That would indeed give East Malaysia equal status to Malaya!

Interestingly the 34-66 proposal seems to have agreement across the political divide.

Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Sarawak chief Baru Bian said the government should ensure the agreement of our forefathers that accorded special rights to East Malaysia be adhered to so that Sarawak is not under-represented at Federal level.

“I am not saying this because I am in the opposition,” said Baru.

He added that the problem of an imbalance of seats cropped up after Singapore left the Federation of Malaysia, leaving all its 15 parliamentary seats to Malaya.

As a Sarawakian, I must say that I agree with the proposal from all quarters to ensure that both Sarawak and Sabah be given more parliamentary seats. Our East Malaysian voices must be heard loud and clear in parliament because we are EQUAL partners in the formation of this nation.

The story from Bernama:

PSC To Recommend 34 Per Cent Allocation Of Parliamentary Seats For Sarawak, Sabah

KUCHING, Dec 8 (Bernama) — The Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on Electoral Reforms will recommend that the Election Commission (EC) maintains the 34 per cent allocation of parliamentary seats for Sabah and Sarawak in the next redelineation exercise.

This is among the recommendations made by the PSC following proposals coming from various quarters.

Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili, who chaired a two-day public hearing here from today, said the PSC was sympathetic to the views raised by three groups, namely the Sarawak Parti Keadilan Rakyat, Sarawak DAP and Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA).

“We will weigh the various comments and come up with the conclusions,” he told reporters during a break at the hearing held at Wisma Bapa Malaysia in Petra Jaya.

He said the issue went back to history when the two states should hold at least one-third of the total parliamentary seats in accordance with the policy and spirit of the Malaysia Agreement.

In making the proposal, Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian said the elected representatives and state government should ensure the agreement of their forefathers that accorded special rights to the two states, be adhered to so that Sarawak was not being under-represented at the federal level.

“I am not saying this because I am in the opposition,” said Baru, who is also Ba’kelalan assemblyman, adding that the problem cropped up after Singapore left the federation, leaving all its 15 parliamentary seats to the peninsula.

In the redelineation process, however, he said, the EC should take into consideration geographical factors like vastness and distance as well as population density, number of voters and economic potential of a particular area.

Meanwhile, PSC member and Kapit Member of Parliament Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi agreed that the 34-66 per cent formula of power-sharing should be brought back by also looking at additional new rural boundaries to enable the voices of the rural pople to be heard.

Asked if the redelineation exercise would be in time for the 13th General Election, Dr Ongkili said it was a matter for the EC to follow up.

“Both the government and opposition sides are neutral on this matter,” he said.

He added that other proposals unique to Sarawak, included automatic voter registration, opportunities for people outside their polling stations to vote as advanced voters and making it mandatory for radio and television stations to give air time to both the Barisan Nasional and opposition.

— BERNAMA

How the New Sabah Times reported it:

Sabah and Sarawak should have 34 per cent of Parliamentary Seats — UPKO

PENAMPANG: Barisan Nasional component, United Pasok-Momogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (Upko) wants the Election Commission (EC) to maintain the 34 per cent allocation of parlimentary seats for Sabah and Sarawak in the upcoming re-delineation exercise.

In making the call, Upko secretary-general Datuk Wilfred Madius Tangau said the party wanted the EC to strictly follow the policy and spirit of the Malaysia Agreement.

He said the demand was justified as it was stated very clearly in the agreement that the EC should not only take into consideration the population or number of voters but also the size of parliamentary constituencies in the re-delineation process.

“For example, the Tuaran parliamentary constituency is bigger than Perlis and likewise, the Kinabatangan parliamentary constituency is bigger than the state of Pahang.

“That’s why, we want the Election Commission to rectify the situation in the present re-delineation exercise for the good of the people and the state, and we presented the highlights of our proposal to the Parlimentary Select Committee (PSC), in a public hearing here last Friday,” he told reporters here yesterday.

Also present were Upko Vice President, Datuk Maijol Mahap, Upko Women Head, Datin Jainah Sintian and Upko Komulakan Head, Ewon Benedict.

Madius said a careful analysis of the geographical sizes of the three territories showed that Peninsular Malaysia with a land size of 131,598 sq km was allocated 166 seats as opposed to Sabah and Sarawak, with a total of 198,081 sq km, being allocated with a mere 56 seats.

In this respect, he said Upko proposed that Sabah be given an additional 10 parliamentary seats, making it 35, and a corresponding 21 parliamentary seats increase for Sarawak (in addition to the present 31 seats), making it a total of 87 seats for Sabah and Sarawak.

“With 87 seats (Sabah and Sarawak) versus 166 seats for Peninsular, it will no longer be possible for members of parliament from Peninsula to amend the Federal Constitution, without the support from Sabah and Sarawak,” he said.

Madius said, apart from demanding that the EC reinstate the state constituency of Langkon in Kota Marudu, the re-delineation excercise must take into account the ethnic groups such as Kimaragang, Tabilung, Lotud, Lundayeh, Tatana, Papar and Membakut Kadazan and the Orang Asli in Peninsula Malaysia when processing the redrawing of parliamentary boundaries so that these ethnic groups are represented in the State Assembly and Parliament.

Madius said, apart from that, Upko has also reiterated their stand that the EC should restore the state seat of Langkon. He said, the past redrawing of electoral constituencies has resulted in the reduction of seats for non-Muslim bumiputeras areas and the Chinese areas.

“In this instance, the Kadazandusun Murut (KDM) lost more than eight seats, including the Langkon and Sook seats before Sook was eventually reinstated,” he said.

He said Upko will also continue to demand that the federal government heed the concerns and unanswered questions of the people on the existence of ‘Project IC’ and establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) to investigate into the matter including the sworn statements that were made during the Likas election petition in 1999.

“Besides this, Upko also wants the dramatic increase of Sabah population to be given attention in the establishment of the RCIwhile at the same time calling for the electoral rolls to be cleaned up,” he said.

Madius said, Upko would not support the automatic registration of a voter as an option when a person reaches the age of 21, as the question on the existence of ‘Projects IC’ has not yet been fully addressed by the authorities.

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