KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal is confident of getting the necessary support in Parliament next week to increase the number of state seats from 60 to 73.
Speaking to reporters after launching the Sabah Oil and Gas Conference and Exhibition here today, he said the new seats had long been endorsed by the state legislative assembly under the previous administration.
He added that the bill for the additional 13 seats would not require a two-third majority to be passed.
“It just needs a simple majority because the amendment doesn’t involve parliamentary seats,” he said.
“I am confident we will get the support.”
The Semporna MP added that he would be in Parliament on July 16 and 17 to debate the bill.
The bill was listed at number five in the Dewan Rakyat Order Paper as of Monday. The debate is scheduled for July 17.
De facto law minister Liew Vui Keong said the government is expected to submit the motion along with the Election Commission (EC) report that day as well.
In August 2016, the Sabah legislative assembly passed an amendment to Article 14(2) of the state constitution to increase the number of assemblymen from 60 to 73. It was gazetted after receiving the consent of the Sabah governor.
The following year, the EC submitted the delimitation proposal for the creation of the new seats to Najib Razak, who was prime minister at the time.
It was meant to be tabled in Parliament in time for the 14th general election. However, it was not tabled.
Bersih recently objected to the delimitation proposal, saying it was based on electoral rolls dated May 13, 2016. It also described it as “malicious, flawed and obsolete”.
It urged Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad to scrap the proposal, adding that a fresh delimitation exercise is necessary for Sabah.
However, the call was dismissed by Sabah opposition leaders who said political parties had waited a long time for the increase in number of state seats.
PBS president Maximus Ongkili said political parties in the state had called for it to be tabled in Parliament ever since the Sabah state assembly passed it in 2016.
“We don’t see why the proposed delineation is regarded as malicious and flawed.
“The EC’s submission has gone through the required constitutional and legal processes. Let Parliament have the final say,” the Kota Marudu MP said.