Thursday, June 4, 2015

EC says not bound by 1963 accord on Sabah, Sarawak seats

BY V. ANBALAGAN, ASSISTANT NEWS EDITOR

Election Commission chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof says any allocation of Dewan Rakyat seats must be dealt with according to the Federal Constitution. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, June 3, 2015.

Election Commission chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof says any allocation of Dewan Rakyat seats must be dealt with according to the Federal Constitution. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, June 3, 2015.
The Election Commission (EC) has dismissed a proposal to set aside one-third of Dewan Rakyat seats to Sabah and Sarawak as agreed in the 1963 Malaysia Agreement, saying it will only stick to provisions in the Federal Constitution in carrying out its redelineation exercise.

Its chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof said any other agreement was not binding on the EC.
"Any allocation of seats must be dealt with according to the constitution and not by way of any agreement which will not be binding on the EC," he told The Malaysian Insider via SMS.
Aziz said this in response to a proposal by DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang that the EC hold an All-Party Constituency Redelineation Conference on the democratic principles that should be the basis of redelineation of electoral constituencies.

The EC is scheduled to redraw the electoral boundaries and increase the number of parliamentary constituencies this year.
Lim who is also Gelang Patah MP supported calls by Sabah opposition leaders for one-third of Dewan Rakyat seats to be set aside for Sabah and Sarawak in line with the spirit of the 1963 accord.
"Putrajaya also has a responsibility to preserve, protect and promote the cardinal nation-building principles in the agreement, one of which is that Malaysia is a secular state with freedom of religion for Malaysians although Islam is the official religion of the federation," Lim said.
At present, Sarawak and Sabah only account for 57 of the 222 parliamentary seats, which is far below the one-third figure of 74 seats.
Last week, the Sabah Solidarity Movement said it had submitted a memorandum to Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia to restore the one-third veto power for Sabah and Sarawak as constitutional safeguards.
The memorandum was signed by local Sabah coalition chairman Datuk  Mohd Noor Mansoor, Angkatan Perpaduan Sabah chairman Datuk Wilfred Bumburing, Sabah Progressive Party chairman Datuk Yong Teck Lee, Sabah People’s Rights Movement president Narawai Ahmad and STAR Sabah chairman Dr Jeffrey Kitingan.
Kitingan, acting as spokesman, said the movement noted with sadness that although both Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat MPs had voiced support for Pandikar’s initiative for parliamentary reforms, none of their proposals addressed the injustices faced by Sabah and Sarawak in the present Parliament.
He said one-third of Dewan Rakyat seats for Sabah and Sarawak should be restored to show both territories were of equal status with states in the peninsula.
Kitingan said when the Federation of Malaysia was formed, Malaya held only held two-thirds of parliamentary seats, with one-third held by Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore. 
He said when Singapore left in 1965, Sabah and Sarawak lost its one-third veto powers in the Dewan Rakyat and now held only 25% of the seats.
Aziz said he was unaware of the memorandum and that it was premature for the EC to hold any discussion with any parties.
"It's only hearsay at this point as the EC has yet to have any knowledge about that memo, therefore the EC can't comment about the contents of that memo by the group," he said. – June 3, 2015.
- See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/not-bound-by-1963-accord-to-allocate-one-third-seats-to-sabah-sarawak-says#sthash.p4l7mNiG.dpuf

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