KUCHING: Serian DAP chairman Edward Luwak wants the federal government to increase representative seats in Sabah and Sarawak.
In a press statement, he explained that Malaysia’s bicameral Parliament consisted of Dewan Rakyat (House of Representatives) and Dewan Negara (Senate).
The former is the Lower House while the latter is the Upper House. Dewan Rakyat members, 222 presently, are elected by the people and representatives of the respective single member parliamentary constituencies.
“Sabah with 25 MPs and Sarawak with 31, make up just 25 per cent of the 222-member Parliament. Figuratively, this is an under-representation as the two states cover a huge area of 198,069 square kilometres compared to Malaya’s area of 131,681 square kilometres. 75 out of 222 would constitute 34 per cent, one-third of the membership,” he said.
He added that representation of one more above one-third of the number of the House from Sabah and Sarawak would be ideal and just.
This would ensure that any new amendment to the Constitution, which has great impact on the two states, could only be passed with the full support of Sabah and Sarawak representatives.
A complete “nay” from Sabah and Sarawak would deny the passing of the amendment or introduction of new clause.
“That would mean that of the 222 members of Parliament, the present 56 would need to be added by another 19 additional representations. It is not practical and not possible to add the 19 now.
“However, it is hoped that the Election Commission could work on giving Sabah and Sarawak an increase to make up one-third representation of the seats in Parliament in the next demarcation of Parliamentary constituency boundaries.
“Moving on to the Upper House, Dewan Negara consists of 70 members. Of these, 26 are elected by the respective 13 State Legislative Assemblies, two each, and the other 44 appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the advice of the Prime Minister,” Edward added.
Four of the appointed members represent the three Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Putra Jaya and Labuan, one each representing the Siamese and Aborigines, one representing Hindraf and one representing the professional group, PWD, thus leaving the “At-Large” representation to 36.
“Perhaps it could be given food for thought to review the senate representations for the Federal Territories of Labuan and Putrajaya. These two small territories are already single member Parliamentary constituencies with small number of population and voters. The appointment of a senator for each of these two constituencies renders redundancy in play,” stated Edward.
He said as Sabah and Sarawak were under-represented in the Dewan Rakyat, it was hoped that the PH Federal Government make good the imbalance in Parliament by appointing a third of the members of the Senate from Sabah and Sarawak. One third of the 70-member senate would mean 24 members.
“Currently Sabah is having two members elected by the Sabah State Assembly, three appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, one from PPBM, one from DAP and one from Warisan, making a total of five. Sarawak on the other hand has two elected by the Sarawak State Assembly, two appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong comprising one from DAP and one from PDP.
“That gives Sabah and Sarawak a representation of nine out of 70 members, a mere 13 per cent representation, 20 per cent short of a one-third representation. Talking about a one-third representation from Sabah and Sarawak in the Senate, the Sabah and Sabah membership should be expanded from the present nine to 24, meaning an additional 15 from Sabah and Sarawak, perhaps to be split with 10 for Sabah and 14 for Sarawak,” he said.
Edward noted that a big chunk of the quota of Senators was awarded to Umno during the Barisan Nasional administration.
He hoped that the Pakatan Harapan government, upon expiry of the terms of the Umno senators, would be more considerate by appointing more members from Sabah and Sarawak to fill the vacancies.
Notably in Sarawak, the Penan, Bisaya and Bidayuh communities have not been represented in the Senate since the formation of Malaysia.
For Sabah, it is certain that some of the minority natives have not or never been represented.