Ongkili: More discussions needed for Sabah, Sarawak’s push for 35% of parliamentary seats

KOTA KINABALU: More engagements are needed to restore Sabah and Sarawak’s desire for 35% of the parliamentary seats in the Dewan Rakyat, says Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili.

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Sabah and Sarawak Affairs) said the two states’ push for the matter was among the key issues discussed at the 5th Special Council on Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MKMA63) meeting in Putrajaya on Thursday (Sept 8).

In a statement, he added that the issue was deliberated and endorsed by the MKMA63.

“However, more engagements are required pertaining to the issue, especially among serving Borneo legislators and legal practitioners,” said Ongkili after the meeting chaired by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

The Kota Marudu MP said lawmakers from Sabah and Sarawak have demanded for a review on the number of parliamentary seats for both states.

“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 does not possess the two-thirds majority alone.

“So when Singapore left Malaysia in 1965, the seats belonging to Singapore should be given to Sabah and Sarawak, to meet the 35% representation,” he said.

Ongkili, who is also Parti Bersatu Sabah president, added that the proposed restoration of seats had been endorsed by Parliament’s Special Select Committee in 2012.

He said that the ultimate task was to convince the Election Commission but stressed that the issue should be pushed because it is another restoration in accordance with the MA63.

Based on the current calculation, of the 222 parliamentary seats, 166 or 75% were in Peninsular Malaysia while the remaining 25% or 56 seats were for the Borneo states, with Sarawak having 31 seats and Sabah 25.

On another matter, the Health Ministry disclosed that efforts are ongoing to beef up its services in Sabah and Sarawak.

Its minister Khairy Jamaluddin briefed the committee – consisting of Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor, Sarawak Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Openg, senior federal and state ministers as well as officials – that both Sabah and Sarawak can expect additional doctors and nurses soon, as well as other medical facilities.

“Also on the pipeline are plans to repair dilapidated hospitals and clinics in both states, and to ensure there are sufficient numbers of specialists at all healthcare outlets,” Khairy said.