Sabah and Sarawak are pushing to increase the number of MPs from the Borneo state to 78, 35% of the representatives inside the Dewan Rakyat.
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Political analysts cast doubt that Sabah and Sarawak will see an increase in the number of their Dewan Rakyat representatives anytime soon.
According to Prof James Chin of the University of Tasmania Asia, while the move would be popular among the people in Sabah and Sarawak, he doubts that it will be agreed to by the Malay political establishment from the Peninsula Malaysia.
“Most of them take the position that after the Constitution amendment, Sabah and Sarawak should not have asked for anything anymore for some time.
“Of course, this is what people in Sabah and Sarawak expected but the Malay political establishment in Peninsula will not agree to this,” James said in a WhatsApp reply to TRP.
He also added that it would take some time for the Election Commission (EC) to complete the redelineation process for the move to materialise.
“Although it’s popular, in practice it was not going to happen anytime soon,” added Chin.
Meanwhile, another political analyst Dr Azmi Hassan said that it is unfair for the Peninsula Malaysia demographic if the numbers of MPs representing them were to be decreased inside the Parliament.
“Normally, a parliamentary constituency was drawn based on the population and the size of the constituency. For example, Sarawak (the largest state in Malaysia) has 31 parliamentary constituencies, which is the highest number compared to other states.
“The government should be careful (when dealing with this matter) as there is no provision inside the Constitution allowing this. We also cannot use the 1963 Malaysia Agreement to give more seats to Sabah and Sarawak,” said the senior fellow at the Nusantara Academy for Strategic Research (NASR).
Azmi also said that Sabah and Sarawak should instead look to increase the number of state assemblymen inside the states if their respective governments are concerned with the well-being of their people.
“The main duties of MPs inside the Parliament are to discuss and to enact laws of the country, not for certain states. That’s why I believed that it’s unfair to increase the number of Dewan Rakyat members from Sabah and Sarawak,” he added.
Yesterday, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Sabah and Sarawak Affairs) Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili, said that 5th Special Council on Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MKMA63) meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob has endorsed the move to restore 35% of the 222 parliamentary seats for Sabah and Sarawak.
“In 1963, Sabah had 16 seats, Sarawak (24) and Singapore (15), representing 35% from the overall 159 parliamentary seats, while the remaining 65%, or 104 seats, were Malaya’s.
“Malaya did not possess the two-thirds majority alone. So when Singapore left Malaysia in 1965, the seats belonging to Singapore should have been given to Sabah and Sarawak, to meet the 35% representation,” Ongkili, who is also Kota Marudu MP, was quoted as saying by Free Malaysia Today.
According to the report, the endorsement would see Sabah and Sarawak having 78 MPs out of the 222 seats available in Parliament, making it a total 35% of representatives inside the Dewan Rakyat.
Ismail Sabri, on his Facebook, also said that the matter was among the topic discussed during yesterday’s meeting.
Sabah and Sarawak currently have 56 reps inside the Parliament.