Former CM Stunned Sabah Electoral Review Not In Report To Parliament

By YONG TECK LEE
COMMENT: It is a shock that the Election Commission’s (EC) report on electoral review to Parliament has left out the Sabah review. Based on leaks of the news of the embargoed Election Commission report to Parliament, only the review for Malayan states was contained in the report to Parliament.

The Sabah review has been left out.

In fact, the Prime Minister has a constitutional duty to, as soon as possible, lay before Parliament the report of the Election Commission on the review of the Sabah electoral boundaries and the increase of 13 state seats in time for the coming elections.

This is clearly provided for in Section 9 of the 13th Schedule of the federal constitution. Once the EC has submitted its report to the PM under section 8 of the same, section 9 has been triggered.

Therefore, the Prime Minister has no discretion not to table the EC report to the Dewan Rakyat (parliament). The approval or not of the EC report is the authority of Parliament, not the Prime Minister. By withholding the EC report on Sabah, the PM is, in effect, usurping the authority of Parliament.

SABAH IS GOVERNED BY LAWS AND NOT BY THE WHIMS AND FANCIES OF THE PRIME MINISTER OR THE CHIEF MINISTER

Under Article 113(6) of the federal constitution, the review of electoral boundaries for Sabah and for Sarawak and the “States of Malaya” (known as Negeri Negeri Tanah Melayu) are done separately. It is generally known that the EC report on Sabah has been submitted to the Prime Minister in early 2017.

There have been more than sufficient opportunities for the PM to fulfil his constitutional duty to lay the EC report before Parliament.

According to official media reports quoting Mohd Hashim Abdullah, the Chairman of the Election Commission, the EC report on the States of Malaya was delayed by almost a year due to legal challenges. But there were no legal challenges to the EC report on Sabah. Last year, the EC had completed its tasks on time within the maximum two year period allowed.

There is grave concern arising from mainstream media reports of Ministers’ public statements that the Prime Minister might not lay the EC report before Parliament at all.

The latest revelation came from Abdul Rahman Dahlan, minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, who was officially quoted as saying that there is “still room for discussion between the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister on whether Sabah should go into the GE14 with 60 or with the additional of another 13 seats” and “whatever the decision is, either to increase by 13 seats or not”.

Legally, politically and administratively, the discussion has been over and done with in August 2016 when the Sabah Legislative Assembly passed the amendments to the Sabah Constitution to increase the membership of the Assembly to 73.

Sabah is governed by laws and not by the whims and fancies of the Prime Minister or the Chief Minister.

If the Prime Minister continued to fail to present to parliament the EC report on Sabah before Parliament is dissolved, then it shows once again that the PM and the Barisan Nasional government disrespect the Sabah constitution, disregard the Legislative Assembly and insult the Sabah Head of State and people of Sabah. It proves that the promises of the BN and the Prime Minster to implement the commitments contained in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 are mere empty promises.

• Yong Teck Lee is President of SAPP