Dewan Rakyat passes motion to add 13 state seats for Sabah

Sabah chief minister describes the undivided approval as an achievement for the state and a historic moment for Sabahans

pic by TMR File

THE Dewan Rakyat yesterday passed a motion to increase the state seats in Sabah from 60 to 73, ending a near three-year impasse.

The motion was passed via a unanimous ballot vote.

Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal (picture) described the undivided approval as an achievement for the state and a historic moment for Sabahans.

“The state needs a higher number of representatives to ensure that the voices of the people in Sabah are heard. This is something we have all been waiting for a long time. I am happy that it has finally been approved,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby. Mohd Shafie said the additional seats will allow Sabahans to be better served and enable those in the rural areas to vote during elections.

The 13 new state seats are Bengkoka, Bandau, Pintasan, Pantai Dalit, Darau, Tanjung Keramat, Limbahau, Tulid, Telupid, Sungai Manila, Lamag, Segama and Kukusan.

During the tabling of the motion, Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the redelineation exercise would assist the elected representatives to provide a better service to the people in order to improve living standards and boost development in the state.

“The increase in electoral districts will also help to improve the level of service rendered to the locals. It will make it easier for people to interact and discuss matters pertaining to welfare,” he said.

Dr Mahathir said the Sabah State Assembly previously passed the amendment to Clause (2) of Article 14 of the Sabah Constitution on the composition of seats in the state assembly from 60 to 73 seats that took effect on Aug 18, 2016.

The Election Commission (EC) had completed the redelineation review report which was handed over to former PM Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak on Feb 21, 2017, but it was not proposed to be tabled in the Parliament at that time, he added.

Dr Mahathir said the EC resubmitted the report to him on June 26 last year which was then distributed to all MPs.

The commission had recommended a total of 13 state seats, he said.

Also recommended were changes in names of one Parliamentary constituency in Sabah, namely Silam to Lahad Datu, and three state constituencies — Tanjong Aru to Tanjung Aru; Lahad Datu to Silam; and Tanjong Batu to Tanjung Batu.

Dr Mahathir also said the EC took into consideration various factors in conducting the redelineation exercise including population density and voter growth, geographical conditions, terrain and area of the constituency, and people’s access to the elected representatives.

Earlier, Mohd Shafie was quoted as saying he was confident that the motion would be approved by the Parliament as it did not require a two-thirds majority.

A simple majority would suffice because it does not involve constitutional amendment, he added.