Bersih’s call to drop 13 new Sabah state seats against constitution, says PBS

PBS vice-president Johnny Mositun.

KOTA KINABALU: Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) disagrees with Bersih’s suggestion to drop the 2017 constituency delimitation proposal for Sabah as such action will render the amendment to the Sabah Constitution meaningless.

Speaking to reporters here today, PBS vice-president Johnny Mositun said such action would also bring into question the state’s constitutional right to determine its own electoral constituencies without federal interference.

“The decision lies with the state assembly. That state right is enshrined in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and parliamentary adoption is only a formality to enable the Election Commission (EC) to redraw the state constituencies accordingly,” he said.

Mositun, who was one of two deputy speakers under BN rule, was referring to the call by Bersih to the prime minister to withdraw the EC Report on the Redelineation of State Constituencies for Sabah, which Parliament will debate on July 17.

Bersih had claimed that the planned lowering of voting age to 18 from 21 and automatic registration would add eight million new voters to the current 14.9 million and exacerbate malapportionment in constituencies.

It called for a new delimitation exercise for electoral boundaries after the government had lowered the voting age and automatic registration came into effect.

Mositun said while Bersih’s concerns are legitimate, the EC can only set things right after 2025 in its next delimitation exercise.

This is because the EC Act only allows a new delimitation of constituencies eight years after the previous one.

In Sabah’s case, Mositun said the state had already lost its chance to use the 13 new constituencies in the general election last year.

“If this 2017 delimitation proposal is withdrawn now, Sabah will not get those 13 seats even in the next general election. That is a gross injustice.”

He noted that the EC’s redrawing of electoral constituencies had not prevented PH from ousting the BN government in GE14 in the peninsula and Sabah.

The EC had conducted a redelineation exercise for Sabah, adding 13 new seats to the existing 60 in 2016 and 2017. The Sabah state assembly had given its approval for this.

“If Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohammad withdraws the EC Report for Sabah at the urging of Bersih, Sabahans will be deprived of the 13 new constituencies in GE15.

“The EC cannot conduct another delimitation exercise less than eight years after the last one,” he said.