Now PBS calls for more Sabah parliamentary seats

PBS president Maximus Ongkili (centre) says there is a huge need for political leadership.

KOTA KINABALU: PBS president Maximus Ongkili has urged the federal government to draw up new parliamentary constituencies in Sabah, in the wake of Dewan Rakyat approval for 13 new state seats.

Ongkili, who is Kota Marudu MP, said more parliamentary constituencies were needed to meet the state’s growing needs. “The number of voters has increased, constituents’ basic needs have grown, towns have developed, hence, the demand for political leadership is huge,” Ongkili said.

The Dewan Rakyat has approved a motion to add 13 state seats in Sabah, with 158 MPs voting in favour. There will, therefore, be 73 state seats in Sabah in the next general election.

The motion was tabled by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and debated by 21 MPs.

In 2016, the state legislative assembly had passed an amendment to the state constitution to add 13 state seats, based on a redelineation exercise by the Election Commission.

Ongkili said the creation of the additional seats was overdue and should have been passed by Parliament in time for the 2018 general election.

He said the Sabah EC and the federal government must take into account the Malaysia Agreement and the Inter-Government Committee Report when reviewing parliamentary constituencies.

These documents, he added, specified that the total parliamentary seats for Sabah and Sarawak should be at least one-third, or 33%, of the total seats in Parliament. “This must be complied with to fulfil the demands of the agreement.”

Ongkili reiterated his call to delay automatic registration of voters in Sabah until the electoral rolls in the state were cleaned up. He had cited concerns over illegal immigrants and questionable voters as the reasons for the postponement in Sabah.