PAPAR September 3, 2011: There is a need to consider re-delineation or additional seats not only for Sabah, but also Sarawak and other states in Peninsular Malaysia where some constituencies cover a vast area or has a significantly large population.
Rural Development Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal, who said this, pointed out that certain areas such as in Johor, has up to 100,000 registered voters in one parliamentary constituency.
“So this is quite huge … Some areas such as Rejang parliamentary constituency, for example, is as big as the whole state of Pahang, it’s like the biggest parliamentary area.
“So in terms of administering the constituency, the sheer size of the areas could be a problem for the representative to handle,”
he told reporters at a Hari Raya open house hosted by Umno Papar yesterday.
However, he said it must be realised that there are certain legal aspects that need to be considered before such requests can be approved.
“If we start making arrangements here, what if we go to the Parliament and do not get the approval. Then it would be a problem.
“So whatever it is, the proposal has to be something that can materialise. Whether we (state BN representatives) agree or not is irrelevant, what’s important is how we can gain approval from the Parliament,” he added.
Shafie said with the current scenario, it can be expected that getting the Parliament support will not be easy.
“I don’t think we can expect it to be not difficult. If it’s a common Act amendment, that one is okay. You don’t need to take a two-third majority.
“But this one is different, it is stipulated quite clearly under the law, the Constitution, that you need to have the majority in the Parliament,” he reasoned.
He said Sabah therefore should at least ensure that the requests voiced at the state level are coordinated with the government’s decision at the federal level, to have a better chance of gaining the two-third support when it gets to Parliament.
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) president Datuk Liew Vui Keong, who was present, concurred with Shafie that additional representatives in large constituencies in each state of the country need to be considered.
“Shafie has said about a large a constituency in Sarawak, but if we look at Kinabatangan for example it’s a huge area and you only have one MP to service the whole area.
“There is a need to look into putting more representatives there, but like what has been pointed out, it is subject to the law where constitutional amendment is required,” he added.
“For Sabah, when we talk about additional seats, we need to look at the question of empowerment to ensure that we can get equal partnership with Peninsular Malaysia. I think this is very important,” he said further.
Meanwhile, Pantai Manis assemblyman Datuk Abdul Rahim Ismail when asked to comment, said although he respected the suggestion by Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) that Papar should be considered as among the areas to be given additional seats, this should not be decided by one component party.
“Datuk Johnny Mositun (PBS information chief) has the right to voice his opinion. But it would be best if we component parties in BN voice this together as a team, and not trying to be a hero by doing it on our own.
“We should be unanimous, here (Papar) we have UPKO, PBRS, PBS and UMNO. So, we should sit together, and discuss this in the right manner,” he said.
He noted that Papar parliamentary constituency has almost 36,000 voters and is considered as a big area.
“Based on these facts, it is rather hard and impossible for an MP to visit the whole 213 villages even once in a year.
“I have an MP been for years and have tried to visit more of these villages, but out of the 213 I had only visited 129 of them…” he said.
Gubat said that with the current parliamentary term expected to end soon, “there are still 100 villages I have yet visited.”