By DARELL LEIKING
COMMENT: The Chief Minister must reveal to all Sabahans, the whole truth as to why the 13 new State Seats which the State Legislative Assembly gazetted on 17th August 2016 was not tabled by the Prime Minister in Parliament in the middle of this week.
Article 14 (2) of the Sabah State Constitution was amended on 9th August 2016 wherein
the ‘60’ State Legislature Seats were replaced with 73 State Legislature Seats.
This was further gazetted through a royal assent by the Governor of Sabah on 17th August 2016 and this would, in effect, mean that the State Legislature now has 73 Seats and not 60.
Further to the addition of the new State Seats as stated in the State Constitution, the Election Commission had been tasked to complete the redelineation of the 13 new State Seats in accordance to Article 113 (10) of the Federal Constitution.
In my question posed to the Prime Minister during the Budget Debate in November 2017, through Minister Azalina Binti Othman, it was confirmed in writing that the EC had in fact already completed its study of the delineation of Sabah’s 13 new State Seats’ electoral boundaries and she further confirmed in writing that the Election Commission’s final report was duly submitted to Najib Razak as Prime Minister on the 21st February 2017.
This in effect confirms that the EC had duly performed its task and had complied with Article 8 of the Thirteenth Schedule of the Federal Constitution and which triggered the obligations of the PM under Article 9 of the Thirteenth Schedule.
Article 9 of the Thirteenth Schedule of the Federal Constitution is specific and states that once the EC submits its report to the Prime Minister, the Prime Minister ‘Shall’ lay the report to the House of Representatives (Parliament) and I take it that the word ‘Shall’ is not discretionary as Zahid Hamidi said it to be but emplaces an obligatory duty by the Prime Minister to submit and to leave the decision on the Parliamentarians to accept or reject such Report tabled by the Prime Minister in accordance to Article 10 of the Thirteenth Schedule of the Federal Constitution.
“Bearing with the fact that Parliament had rushed the Redelineation of the Malaya State Seats (last Wednesday 28th March 2018) and the one-day Gazette of the Delineation of the Malaya State Seats on the 29th March 2018, I now put to task the Chief Minister of Sabah on why his Administration, which had rushed the Amendment to the Sabah Constitution (by adding the 13 New State Seats) and even rushed the gazette of the same on 17th August 2016 have failed to exert its autonomy by making the Prime Minister exercise his obligation to the Sabah State Assembly and Sabahans by tabling the finalised Sabah Delineation in Parliament in accordance to Article 9 of the Thirteenth Schedule.
This is the entire problem of a Federal-centric controlled political party such as UMNO where the final ultimate decision even for an equal partner Sabah (a founding Partner of the Federation) is left to UMNO President Najib.
The Sabah State Assembly had already decided and legislated on the increase of Seats but the Prime Minister just shot it down by refusing to perform his obligation under Article 9 of the Thirteenth Schedule.
It is also anyone’s wonder why Musa Aman, Sukarti Wakiman, his State Secretary, and the State Cabinet Ministry had never followed up with Najib about this outstanding Sabah State Seat issue despite the EC Final report having been submitted to the Prime Minister since 21st February 2017 (a whole one year long to date) and despite 3 Parliamentary Sessions in April 2017, July 2017 and November 2017.
As an afterthought, we now read news where Sukarti is telling us that the reason for the delay on tabling the 13 new seats / Sabah Delineation is that the State Government wants additional parliamentary seats for Sabah but how does that tally with the rushed amendment and gazette to the Sabah Constitution on the increase of seats on 9th August 2016?
It is humorous for such an afterthought without taking into fact that legally all matters pertaining to the Gazette of the 13 new Sabah State Seats have been duly complied with as well as the Submission in accordance to the Thirteenth Schedule of the Delineation Report had been complied with since 21st February 2017.
Having said that and in view of the importance of having the 13 new Sabah State seats as mentioned by Sukarti, why then did Musa and his entire State Cabinet neglect and sleep over the 13 new Sabah seats with no follow-up being made with Najib as the Prime Minister who had already received the final report from EC on the Sabah Delineation?
I reckon that if Musa, Sukarti or the State Cabinet had followed up with Najib on the delayed tabling of the delineation in the first place, Sabah would not be thrown into such a legal mess such as now where the legal question arises on whether the Sabah State Assembly can be dissolved or otherwise.
The Sabah opposition bloc have all the while been talking about this issue and during Najib’s several trips to Sabah last year, did Musa and his Cabinet Ministers whisper in the ears of the PM either softly or loudly on the necessity to table the delineation of the 13 new Sabah seats in Parliament?
As at this week, nothing has happened on the delineation of the Sabah State Seats and Sabahans should ask who is not doing their job here; is it Najib that is full of ego for not entertaining the rights of Sabahans for better representation through their State Assembly which is supported by the TYT or is it Musa who had been too lazy to make the follow-up on the matter which he himself pushed in the first place or is Musa disappointed with Najib’s federal- centric decision.
I believe the issue relating to the 13 new Sabah seats has wider implications than what most people think.
There had been some BN State Leaders who took a simplistic stand on this issue by saying that if we can’t have the 13 new seats then we can always go for the 60 (seats).
First and foremost, we need to realize that the creation of these 13 new seats was engineered and pushed by Musa Aman, approved by the State Assembly and Gazetted right after the royal assent by the TYT, but now rejected by Najib Razak by his non-tabling of the Sabah State Seat Delineation.
Sabah is, in my opinion, on uncharted territory wherein for the first time in its history, there is a likelihood that the State will unconstitutionally dissolve 60 Seats out of 73 Gazetted State Seats.
The only solution left to honour Sabah’s rights as a Founding Partner of the Federation is for Najib to just table by a Ministers Motion, the Final Delineation Report submitted to him on the 21st February 2017 by the Election Commission, to Parliament this Monday, 2nd April 2018 so that the same can be notified and be debated and passed on the 5th April 2018 (in compliance to the Parliament Standing Order).
• Darell Leiking is deputy President of Parti Warisan Sabah as well as Member of Parliament for Penampang