PETALING JAYA: Population density should not be a stumbling block to increasing the number of parliamentary seats in East Malaysia, says a Sabah leader.
Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) information chief Joniston Bangkuai said the size of constituencies in the Borneo states is why Sabah and Sarawak should have more parliamentary seats.
“For example, Kinabatangan is larger than Pahang, but how many MPs does that state have? Imagine having one MP serve an area larger than Pahang,” he told FMT.
Pahang is represented by 14 MPs and 42 assemblymen, while Kinabatangan has only one MP and three assemblymen.
“More parliamentary seats must be allocated to Sabah and Sarawak. When we have more seats, areas like Tuaran can be divided into two (parliamentary constituencies), and its MPs will receive (separate) development allocations,” said Joniston, who is the Kiulu assemblyman.
The PBS leader added that increasing the number of parliamentary seats in Sabah and Sarawak would lighten the load of elected representatives and ensure MPs and assemblymen could better serve their constituencies.
There have been increasing calls for Sabah and Sarawak to be allocated 35% of the total parliamentary seats.
Last week, former Election Commission (EC) deputy chairman Wan Ahmad Wan Omar said it was not the right time to implement such a move owing to the low population density in some areas.
Previously, electoral watchdog Bersih also said democracy would be weakened if Sabah and Sarawak had a 35% quota of seats in the Dewan Rakyat, as Malaysians would no longer be considered to have an equal vote.
Joniston said in principle, seats in Peninsular Malaysia should not account for two-thirds of Parliamentary seats.
Meanwhile, Sarawak Bersatu chief Jaziri Alkaf Abdillah Suffian said Sabah and Sarawak’s position as equal partners in the federation should be reflected with an increased number of parliamentary seats.
He said allocating Sabah and Sarawak 35% of parliamentary seats would allow for more elected representatives to serve the people and reduce the development gap between the two states and the peninsula as highlighted in the Intergovernmental Committee (IGC) 1962 report.