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‘Sabah, Sarawak’s ‘right’ to have more parliament seats’

By Luke Rintod of FMT
Sabah's land area may be equivalent to nine states in
the peninsula, but its representation in Parliament
does not reflect this.
KOTA KINABALU: Going by the spirit of the 1963 Malaysia Agreement, Sabah and Sarawak should have a minimum 78 seats in the current 222-seat Dewan Rakyat. But in reality this has never happened. Sabah and Sarawak currently have a collective 56 seats in Parliament.

Demanding for a review in the number of seats, State Reform Party (STAR) Sabah chapter chairman Jeffrey Kitingan said both states must collectively have at least 35 % of seats in parliament.

“We must revisit the recommendation in paragraphs 165 and 190(g) of the Cobbold Commission Report that ‘representation of the Borneo territories shall take into account not only of their population but also of their size and potentialities’,” Jeffrey said.

He said when Malaysia was formed then, Malaya was allocated 104 seats representing 65% of the parliamentary seats with Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore combined getting 35%.

“This was an important constitutional safeguard for the Borneo states to ensure that the Federal Constitution would not be freely amended by Malaya representatives alone,” he said in a statement today.

He said any review on the matter must take into account the composition ratio of the parliamentary seats agreed at the formation of Malaysia Federation.

It must also ensure a fairer and more equitable distribution of funds for each constituency and access to facilities and amenities by the people in both states.

Jeffrey also said that Sabah with 73,620 sq km is an area equal to nine states in the peninsula and 90 times the size of Perlis (816 sq km).

“To emphasise our point, even the rural Kuamut state constituency (under Tongod district) is 10,054 sq km, which is larger than the whole of Kedah (9,347 sq km) and the Keningau parliamentary seat is 3,533 sq km, which is larger than the combined 3,405 sq km areas of Malacca (1,650 sq km), Penang (1,039 sq km) and Perlis (816 sq km).

“Kedah has 15 MPs, 36 assemblymen, one mentri besar and one Sultan while Kuamut is only represented by an assemblyman and shares its MP with Sukau (6,604 sq km), which is about the size of Negri Sembilan (6,633 sq km), which has eight MPs and 36 assemblymen,” he said.

Sabah not rewarded

Jeffrey also cited Keningau which is larger than the combined Malacca, Penang and Perlis.

He said Keningau had only one MP and three assemblymen, while the three peninsular states combined are represented by 26 MPs and 83 assemblymen, two chief ministers, one menteri besar, two Yang di-Pertua Negri (governors) and one Raja (Sultan).

“The disparity is amazing and the problems of the people and development in each district in Sabah are further hindered by huge imbalances in development allocations” he said.

He said that just last week, Malacca Chief Minister (Mohd Ali Rustam) announced that Malacca was given an allocation of RM1.2 billion for 2011 to 2013 and requested for at least RM1.0 billion each year under the 10th Malaysia Plan to enhance the state’s economy and industrial development.

“However, the allocation for Keningau is less than RM10 million.

“Prime Minister [Najib Tun Najib] also announced last week that the revenue collection for 2011 was a record RM109.674 billion.

“The contribution from Sabah was a record RM22.7 billion, yet Sabah is not rewarded but the Inland Revenue Department will be getting fat bonuses.

“If Point 11 of the 20-Points was implemented, all the RM22.7 billion would have been collected by Sabah.

“Even assuming [that] Sabah makes a one-third contribution to the federal government, the state will still retain RM15.1 billion for its own development in addition to the current RM3.7 billion state revenue,” he said.

Where’s the justice?

Jeffrey also recalled that Petronas had recently announced that it made a record RM96.561 billion gross profit for the nine-month period ending Dec 31, 2011 with the federal government getting RM27.113 billion in tax revenue and RM30 billion in dividend payment.

“Sabah contributes not less than RM15 billion of the profits but gets only a paltry 5% oil payment, while the 44,000 employees of Petronas will be getting a record of not less than 6.7 month’s bonus.

“Sabah is a wealthy state, but given its treatment by the federal government, it is no surprise that Sabah is now the poorest state with its people deprived of proper roads, electricity, healthcare and other infrastructures… Where is the justice for Sabah?” he added.

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