KOTA KINABALU: More engagements are needed to restore Sabah and Sarawak’s desire for 35% of the parliamentary seats in the Dewan Rakyat, says Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili.
The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Sabah and Sarawak Affairs) said East Malaysia’s push on the matter was among key issues discussed at the 5th Special Council on Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MKMA63) meeting in Putrajaya on Thursday.
He pointed out the issue was deliberated and endorsed during the meeting, which was chaired by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
“However, more engagements are required pertaining to the issue, especially among serving Borneo legislators and legal practitioners,” said Ongkili in a statement.
The Kota Marudu MP said lawmakers from Sabah and Sarawak had demanded a review on the number of parliamentary seats for both states.
He said that in 1963, Sabah had 16 seats, Sarawak 24, and Singapore 15, representing 35% of the overall 159 parliamentary seats, while the remaining 65%, or 104 seats, were in Peninsular Malaysia.
“So when Singapore left Malaysia in 1965, the seats belonging to Singapore should have been given to Sabah and Sarawak to meet the 35% representation,” he said.
Ongkili, who is also Parti Bersatu Sabah president, added that the proposed restoration of seats had been endorsed by the Parliamentary Special Select Committee in 2012.
He said the issue was part of restoring the rights of East Malaysia in accordance with the Malaysia Agreement 1963.
Currently, 75%, or 166, of the 222 parliamentary seats are in Peninsular Malaysia.
The remaining 25% are in East Malaysia, with 31 in Sarawak and 25 in Sabah.
On a separate matter, the Health Ministry announced ongoing efforts to beef up healthcare services in both states.
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin briefed those at the MKMA63 meeting.
Khairy had said both states could expect additional doctors and nurses soon, along with other medical facilities.