KUCHING: The state Election Commission (EC) has not received any objections so far to its proposal to increase the number of state constituencies by 11 to 82.
Director Datuk Takun Sunggah said objections could be raised by registered voters, local authorities and the state government during a one-month period when the notice of the proposal is displayed for public viewing or during the appeal period after the EC has studied the objections received.
“We will consider the objections based on rationale such as the condition of the map and the voter list according to polling district.
“Appeals can also be made before the EC makes any amendments to the proposed delineation,” he said.
The proposed new seats are Batu Kitang, Stakan, Serembu, Triboh, Gedong, Kabong, Tellian, Selirik, Murum, Samalaju and Long Lama.
Takun said members of the public were welcome to inspect the recommendations at 50 district, sub-district and municipal council offices statewide from now until Feb 4.
“We have prepared special forms and 50 officers to assist the public in this matter,” he said.
He also said the delineation of parliamentary and state constituencies in Sarawak was reviewed in accordance with Clause (2) Article 113, Part I of the Thirteenth Schedule and Articles 116 and 117 of the Federal Constitution.
“We also take into account local conditions and the size of an area. We do not propose the new seats for Barisan Nasional, DAP, PKR or any party or individual.
“Anyone and any party can contest in the new seats,” he said, adding that the last review was done in 2005, which saw the creation of three new parliamentary and nine state constituencies.
Earlier, Sarawak PKR vice-chairman See Chee How had urged Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem to raise objections to the proposed delineation of state constituencies to safeguard the constitutional rights and interests of Sarawakians.
See said Adenan should be concerned about the increase of 11 state seats without any increase in parliamentary seats and that the delineation exercise for Sarawak was carried out at a different time from the rest of Malaysia.
“The Chief Minister should question the EC whether there will be any increase in the number of seats in Parliament following this present exercise and whether any step is undertaken by the EC to ensure that Sabah and Sarawak will have one-third of the total number of seats in Parliament as was guaranteed to us before the formation of Malaysia.
“He should not be content with the proposed delineation which obviously benefits the state Barisan Nasional and particularly PBB, but the weightage of Sabah and Sarawak representation in Parliament being watered down by a later exercise affecting the number of parliamentary seats in the whole country,” See said in a statement yesterday.
He also said the lack of information on the proposed delineation for ordinary voters was a violation of the EC’s constitutional duty and obligation to Sarawakians.
Further, he said, the malapportionment and gerrymandering hidden under the delineation process, which was devoid of accountability and transparency, were an affront to the values of good governance.
“The delineation involving the Batang Sadong parliamentary constituency, which has 20,977 voters, to have three state constituencies including the new seat of Gedong with merely 6,340 voters, is completely nonsensical,” he said.
See added that if the EC’s proposal was approved, the Chief Minister and PBB would face criticism of having a hand in the delineation.
“The Chief Minister should therefore show his leadership in registering his concerns to the proposed delineation affecting Sarawak. I would even urge him to support concerned Sarawakians to take legal proceedings to ensure that their constitutional rights and interests are safeguarded by delaying the publication of the delineation proposal for Sarawak until the national delineation exercise is completed,” he said.
State DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen also raised concerns about the proposed delineation, saying that it defied the basic principle of “one person-one vote-one value”.
“The most glaring anomaly is the Bandar Kuching parliamentary constituency, which was already one of the most populous with some 52,000 voters, now having the addition of the Batu Lintang state constituency, increasing the number of its voters by another 25,000 to more than 78,000,” he said.
He also charged the EC with helping Barisan to consolidate its position and win more seats through the proposed delineation, based on the assumption that Malay and Dayak voters in rural areas would always support Barisan.