KUALA LUMPUR: The Dewan Rakyat has passed a Bill to increase the number of state seats in Sabah.
The Bill was passed unanimously with the Bill receiving support from all 158 MPs present in the House, including Sabah lawmakers.
During his winding-up debate, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong said the redelineation was done in the best interest of Sabahans.
"The report by the EC was done accordingly in line with Constitutional requirements.
"There was ample opportunity to participate in the redelineation process," he said in Parliament on Wednesday (July 17).
He said the Government took note of the proposals raised by lawmakers during the debate, including providing transportation for voters in rural areas.
"This proposal requires further study as it requires a huge allocation," he added.
Speaker Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof reminded lawmakers that more than half of the votes of MPs present in the House were needed to pass the Bill.
He ordered a block vote to be taken with 158 votes in support of the Bill, with no objections.
Earlier, when tabling the Bill for its second reading, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said that the redelineation would benefit Sabahans in terms of the delivery system by elected representatives.
"It will bring benefits, especially in the interior areas, including spurring development," he said.
The Federal Government Order (Redelineation of Electoral Divisions) (Sabah) 2019 Bill was tabled by Dr Mahathir for its first reading on July 8,
The Bill was to increase the number of state legislative seats from 60 to 73.
The new seats are Bengkoka, Bandau, Pintasan, Pantai Dalit, Darau, Tanjung Keramat, Limbahau, Tulid, Telupid, Sungai Manila, Lamag, Segama and Kukusan.
The Bill also proposed the name change of three state seats, namely Tanjong Aru to Tanjung Aru, Lahad Datu to Silam and Tanjong Batu to Tanjung Batu.
The Parliament seat of Silam was renamed to Lahad Datu.
On Tuesday (July 16), electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0 broke the Parliamentary embargo on the Sabah redelineation report on pain of a RM1,000 fine.
The Bersih 2.0 steering committee called on Sabah lawmakers to not support the Bill, which is based on a redelineation report conducted by the Election Commission in 2017.
The committee claimed that the two-year-old proposal is "malicious, flawed and obsolete" and would lead to excessive malapportionment.
They wanted the redelineation to be deferred.
In August 2016, the Sabah legislative assembly passed an amendment to the state Constitution to allow for the 13 new seats to be created.
This was gazetted after the Sabah Yang-Di Pertua Negri gave his consent by the end of the year.