KOTA KINABALU: All 25 Sabah MPs, including the six Opposition lawmakers, are expected to support the long-delayed Bill to increase the state assembly seats from 60 to 73.The Opposition MPs have indicated that they would support the Bill when it is tabled in Dewan Rakyat on Wednesday, which needs a simple majority to pass.
The MPs are Parti Bersatu Sabah president Datuk Dr Maximus Ongkili (Kota Marudu), Parti Solidariti Tanah AirKu president Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan (Keningau), Sabah Umno chief Datuk Bung Moktar Radin (Kinabatangan), Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah deputy president Arthur Kurup (Pensiangan) and Independents Datuk Seri Anifah Aman (Kimanis) and Yamani Hafez Musa (Sipitang).
“Yes, Sabah needs to catch up with Sarawak and Malaya (Peninsular Malaysia) in terms of representation,” said Kitingan.
“After all, I already supported it at the state assembly level two years ago.”
He, however, said his only concern was how the seats would be distributed between Muslim bumiputra areas and non-Muslim bumiputra areas for interior seats.
Kurup said he would support the Bill but was concerned it would be incomplete without increasing the parliamentary seats.
“The next look at the parliamentary seats can only be done in about eight years since the last one in 2017. It is a long wait,” he added.Anifah said he would definitely support the Bill as the increase was approved by the state assembly in August 2016.
The increase of seats was gazetted in late 2016 but the former Barisan Nasional government never tabled it for approval in Parliament.
This led to a political uproar and a suit filed by former chief minister Datuk Yong Teck Lee to compel then prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to table the amendment. The suit was dismissed.
Yesterday, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said he was confident that Sabah MPs would support the Bill.
He, however, was not taking any chances and would be lobbying for it with the MPs.