PBS: Sabah, Sarawak’s call for equal share of Parliament seats echoes founding fathers’ intent

·2-min read
Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KOTA KINABALU, Sept 19 — Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) has called on the Election Commission (EC) not to dismiss proposals from Sabah and Sarawak to increase the number of parliamentary seats for the two Borneo states after a deputy chairman had called their proposal “unreasonable”.

PBS’s secretary-general Datuk Julita Majungki said that their proposal to have 35 per cent of the 222 seats in Parliament from the two east Malaysian states was to have a balance of power from all regions as intended in the formation of the Federation of Malaysia.

“The EC must always be seen to be independent and act independently in all actions, so they should not be quick to dismiss ideas from Sabah and Sarawak leaders intended to strengthen the Malaysian parliament,” she said.

Responding to the EC’s former deputy chairman Datuk Seri Wan Ahmad Wan Omar over his comment that it was unreasonable to increase the number of parliamentary seats, Majungki stressed that the EC should be open to the transformation of the electoral system.

“As a former senior officer of EC, he should respect this spirit of formation of Malaysia for the good of the Malaysian Parliament.

“This was the legacy of our founding fathers who did not want Malaya to get more than a two-thirds majority to avoid them from passing laws without the support of Sabah and Sarawak,” she said.

The Parliamentary Select Committee chaired by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Sabah and Sarawak Affairs) and PBS president Datuk Seri Maximus Ongkili and the Special Council on Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MKMA63) recently endorsed the increase of seats.

The Parliamentary Select Committee, formed to improve the parliamentary process in 2005 also listed the proposal as one of 21 recommendations of the committee.

Many of the recommendations have since been adopted by the EC, including the reduction in voting age, anti-hopping law, and political funding, to mention some.

“Based on records of discussions by the Malaysian Federation founding fathers, it was their political desire that the parliamentary seats for Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore combined would be over one-third in total to ensure a balanced representation was provided for the three regions of the Borneo states and Singapore.

“This was to ensure that no laws could be passed by Malaya without the support of the non-Malaya components of the federation,” she said, adding that the aspirations of the founding fathers of Malaysia must be acknowledged and respected.

“We hope the comments made by Wan Ahmad, although a former deputy director of the Commission, does not reflect and represent the EC.

“And it is improper for EC, being an independent body, to quickly dismiss ideas aimed at restoring a balance of representation in the electorate and strengthening the Malaysian parliament,” she said.