KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah constitution now states that 72 members and not 60 must be elected to the Sabah Legislative Assembly and failure to comply risks a constitutional crisis, said local opposition coalition Gabungan Sabah.
Leaders of the four party coalition pointed out that the new seats were gazetted on Aug 17, 2016 but Parliament had yet to pass amendments to the Bill and should take immediate steps to approve the 13 new seats during its next sitting in March.
"Failure to do so will result in a constitutional crisis because the constitution states that there shall be 73 members whereas only 60 members are elected," said the leaders during a joint press conference on Wednesday.
Among those present were Sabah STAR president Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, Sabah Progressive Party president Datuk Yong Teck Lee, Parti Perpaduan Rakyat Sabah president Mohd Arshad Abdul Maulad and Parti Harapan Rakyat Sabah deputy president Ashim Jamat.
Yong said the decision of the Sabah assembly must be followed or it will amount to disrespecting the state's constitution.
Dr Jeffrey, who is Bingkor assemblyman and who supported the amendments, said that it would be a mockery for the state government to repeal the amendments as it was fully passed by 55 of the 60 assemblymen with three objecting, one abstaining another abstaining.
Both Dr Jeffrey and Yong said they would definitely object and protest if the state government repeals the additional seats.
Former Sabah attorney general Datuk Stephen Foo argued that as long the amendments have not been passed by Parliament and received the consent of the Agong it was not yet legal. As such, he said that the 60 seats was still valid.
"There is nothing to stop both the federal and state governments to push it through Parliament. Both are Barisan governments unlike in the case of electoral boundary changes objected by opposition held Selangor state government," he said.
It is understood that both the state government and Election Commission were looking into the legal issues on the matter if the Bill for the additional seats were not passed in Parliament this March.