Sabah Assembly gets Bill to increase state seats

Johnny-MositunKOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Assembly is set to table a Bill to amend Section 2 of the 2nd Legislative Assembly (Elected Members) Enactment 1965 to increase the number of state seats from the current 60 to 73. This would see 13 new state seats based on the existing 25 parliamentary seats.

The new delineations would have to be approved by Parliament.

An Order paper on the Bill has been sighted by the Malay Mail Online according to a report on Monday.

It was not immediately clear when the Bill would be tabled in the Legislative Assembly which began its sitting on Monday. It should come within the next three days of the sitting.

Once passed, the Bill would enable the Election Commission (EC) to proceed with marking out the new seats. It’s not known where the seats would come from, but sources say that at least 12 parliamentary seats may be affected.

These parliamentary seats, according to local media reports, include Kinabatangan, Beluran, Sandakan, Sepanggar, Lahad Datu, Tawau, Papar, Kota Marudu, Tawau, Kota Belud and Tuaran.

Sabah Deputy Speaker Johnny Mositun was recently reported as saying in the New Sabah Times that there was a need for new state seats. He did not have any details apart from saying the EC will work out the new areas once the Bill is passed in the Sabah Assembly. He was echoing what Sabah EC director Mohd Idrus Ismail told the media in December last year.

Idrus has since disclosed that he would contact the EC in Sarawak to find out how the state’s experience in increasing the number of state seats by 11, from the previous 71, could be used in Sabah.

In 1994, the Sabah Assembly had 48 state seats, 20 KDM, 20 Muslim and 8 Chinese. After the Sabah Government led by the Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) was toppled in the wake of two defections, the number of state seats was increased by 12 to 60. The increase saw Umno’s seats going from 20 to 32.

There was no increase in the number of KDM and Chinese seats.