KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) today challenged the Barisan Nasional (BN) to dissolve the Sabah state assembly if it cannot resolve the year-long delay in approving 13 new state seats.
SAPP president Yong Teck Lee said the unexplained and undue delay over the approval of the new seats by the assembly was raising concern that internal bickering was undermining the Sabah government’s ability to function.
The assembly had approved amendments to the Sabah constitution last August to increase the number of state assembly seats from 60 to 73.
“All sorts of reasons were given by the government for the necessity to have an additional 13 constituencies,” said Yong whose party is a member of opposition coalition Gabungan Sabah.
“The Election Commission later prepared for the creation of the 13 constituencies. New boundaries of existing constituencies were drawn up.
“The Election Commission then published the boundaries of the new and existing constituencies. It finally conducted public hearings. So much money and effort has been spent.
“And yet, after one year, there is still no sign of any approval forthcoming.”
Yong, a former chief minister when his party was a component of BN, asked whether the BN government was having cold feet that the new seats might give an advantage to the opposition.
“Is it because of the intense bickering over the new seats among BN component parties that has derailed the creation of the new constituencies?” he asked.
“If the new constituencies are not created in time for the coming elections, then it means that the government has made a fool of the people of Sabah.
“If Parliament does not pass the new electoral boundaries for Sabah together with the 13 new constituencies, then it means that the amendments to the Sabah constitution (increasing the membership of the assembly to 73) has become totally redundant.”
This, according to Yong, would be a serious blow to the status and dignity of the Sabah assembly and the Sabah constitution.
He said the “disgraceful state of affairs” should not be allowed to continue until another sitting of the Sabah assembly.
“If Parliament does not approve the new constituencies in its current sitting, then the Sabah assembly should be dissolved so that Sabahans can elect a new assembly that is capable of upholding the status and dignity of the Sabah Legislative Assembly,” Yong said.