Demands for seats increase not as rational as they sound

We have noticed that for a while now there has been a lot of proposal to increase the number of parliamentary and state seats, with most of the opposition as well as the ruling coalition members supporting the move. Only Datuk Lajim Ukin has so far expressed disagreement with his colleagues’ proposal. He said this doesn’t make sense because the number of voters in some seats are too small, e.g. his Beaufort parliamentary constituency is only about 28,000 while the Sipitang and Kimanis parliamentary constituencies have only about 22,000 each.

I agree with Lajim. What we Sabahans should be thinking about now is not more seats, but a fairer share of the parliamentary seats among the Peninsular, Sabah and Sarawak regions, as was originally agreed during the formation of Malaysia. In the original arrangement out of the total number of 222 parliamentary seats, 25 percent was allotted EACH for Sabah and Sarawak. Meaning, the Peninsular got 50 percent and the Borneo states had 50 percent, in consideration for the Peninsular having a much larger population, and despite the larger geographical areas of the Borneo states.

Unfortunately, this is no longer reflected in the balance of seat in the Malaysian Parliament today, where the number of seats allotted to the Borneo states stands at 57 including the one held by the Federal Territory of Labuan. Peninsular Malaysia now has 165 seats, i.e. more than two-thirds of the total (two third would be 148 seats), and thereby depriving Sabah and Sarawak any possible veto power in cases of legislations which would derail their interests in the federation. It must be understood however that 18 of the seats held by Peninsular Malaysia in fact should belong to Sabah and Sarawak as the balance due to us after the departure of Singapore. The rot set in when Singapore’s exit from Malaysia saw Peninsular Malaysia taking half of the 15 seats held by the island in Parliament. This altered the previous balance in Parliament between Peninsular Malaysia on the one hand and, on the other hand, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak collectively. If we had our fair share of seats the Peninsular would be having 147 seats, i.e. one short of the two-thirds of the total.

Johnny Mositun, as a senior leader in PBS, should rethink his priority in this matter, and fight for a fairer share of seats for Sabah, and not more seats for the whole of Malaysia. For all we know, if there is an increase in seats, there will be even a bigger percentage share of seats for the Peninsular than it already enjoys now. We can believe that this strategy is already in the minds of many Peninsular leaders this very moment! And in that case, how will an increase in seats benefit Sabah and Sarawak? PBS should look at the interests of Sabah (and Sarawak) in the whole scheme and not have the shortsighted view of just increasing seats for the sake of increasing, and supposedly getting more development allocations.

Also, an increase of parliamentary seats in Malaysia will most likely lead to a repeat and worsening of another famous problem – gerrymandering! The federal leaders would definitely want to work in cahoots with the Election Commission to ensure the redelineation will maximise the Barisan Nasional’s prospect to hold on to power and reduce as much as possible the opposition’s chances of taking over the government. The PBS should realize that it is in a classic dilemma over this prospect – it will help the BN (and PBS) remain in power, but it will also further reduce the position of the KDMs in the BN coalition. So in reality, by proposing an increase in seats, the PBS, Upko and PBRS are actually putting the KDMs in worse political situation than they already are!

And imagine this: What if the federal leaders say that since the Peninsular has five times more population than Sabah and Sarawak combined, then the Peninsular, “to be fair”, should have five times more seats than the two Borneo states (combined)?

It doesn’t make sense to increase our number of parliamentary seats, also because if we look at India, a sub-continent with a total population of 1.189 billion (of which 714 million are voting citizens), and yet it only has 545 Members of Parliament! Compare this to Malaysia with a population of only 28 million people and having 222 MPs (0.0008% of the population)! Are we saying that if we had a population of one billion (like India) we should have 8,000 parliamentary seats (0.0008% of the population)? In such a scenario we will need a parliament hall 36 times the present size!

What we also need to realize is that Sabah has a population of 3.2 million while Sarawak has around 2.5 million, but Sabah, disproportionately, has only 25 seats while Sarawak has 31 seats. Maybe this needs to be rectified first. But then again, Sabah’s population has been increased artificially with a purposeful injection of illegals, many of whom could be voting as phantoms voters. Therefore, an increase in seats could also mean an increase in the opportunity to use phantom voters, which is not good for Sabah?

As such the issue should not be to increase parliamentary seats, but to clean up the electoral rolls. And next to that it the cleaning up of the election process as envisaged by Bersih’s eight-point demand for electoral reform. These are the most rational and necessary things to seek and ask for at this point in time. Unfortunately, the KDM-based BN component parties have no courage to support Bersih’s demand because they would be seen as going against the government. Almost anything to do with yellow is now taboo, no matter how good it is for the people! Some day, maybe eating rice will also be taboo because some idiots out there made rice a symbol of a perfectly rational, pro-people, struggle!

The KDM BN leaders are making a lot of noise about increasing parliamentary seats just because they want to be seen to be doing something positive, as if they are using their brains, whereas they in reality fail to see the negative possibilities of what they are asking for.


Extracted from


About Kinabalu

We are among the many Sabahan's who feels that we can make our country a better place to live than what it is today.

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