Sarawak and Sabah should have one-third of the parliamentary seats which is not only be in the spirit of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 but a crucial safeguard to preserve and protect the fundamental principle of the constitution of Malaysia as a secular nation with Islam as the official religion
Malaysia wants to become a developed nation in five years time in 2020.
In the developed nations in Europe, the rural areas would enjoy basic infrastructures and amenities like piped water, electricity supply, as well as the most elementary educational, economic and health facilities which are non-existent for rural areas in Malaysia, particularly in Sarawak and Sabah.
I can still remember that more than half a century ago in the early sixties, there would be delegation after delegation of Sarawakians and Sabahans visiting Peninsular Malaysia because the Prime Minister at the time, Tunku Abdul Rahman, his deputy Tun Razak and other Ministers in the Cabinet in Kuala Lumpur wanted to convince Sarawak and Sabah leaders the advantages of the formation of Malaysia, promising that Sarawak and Sabah would be as advanced and developed as Malaya if Sabah and agreed to the formation of the new federation of Malaysia together with Malaya and Singapore.
Malaysia is now 52 years old since its formation in 1963, and the promises half a century ago that Sarawak and Sabah would be as developed as Peninsular Malaysia have still to be met, or tens of thousands of Ibans would not have to leave Sarawak to seek greener pastures in Johor Baru – which is why we are having a Gawai celebration in Johor Baru tonight.
Putrajaya has a great responsibility to ensure that the promises made for the establishment of Malaysia in 1963 are honoured, and urgent steps are taken to ensure that the people of Sarawak and Sabah, in particular their indigenous people, the Dayak and Kadazandusun communities, do not continue to be left behind in the backwaters of development.
Putrajaya also has a responsibility to preserve, protect and promote the cardinal nation-building principles in the Malaysia Agreement 1963, one of which is that Malaysia is a secular state with freedom of religion for Malaysians although Islam is the official religion of the Federation.
As such, any implementation of hudud law would not only be inappropriate and unsuitable for a multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-cultural nation like Malaysia, it would be against the Malaysia Agreement 1963 as well as the Merdeka Constitution 1957.
Sarawak and Sabah are among the bulwarks of the nation to preserve, protect and promote the basic principles and pillars of the Constitution and the nation.
For this reason, Sarawak and Sabah should have one-third of the parliamentary seats in the country which will not only be in the spirit of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 but be a crucial safeguard to preserve and protect the fundamental principle of the constitution of Malaysia as a secular nation with Islam as the official religion where there is constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion for Malaysians.
At present, Sarawak and Sabah only account for 57 of the 222 parliamentary seats, which is far short of the one-third figure, which is 74 parliamentary seats.
The Election Commission should convene an All-Party Constituency Redelineation Conference on the democratic principles which should be the basis for a redelineation of electoral constituencies in the country, which should not only take into account the democratic principle of one-man, one-vote and one-valu, but also incorporate the constitutional principle of Sarawak and Sabah constituting one-third of all the parliamentary seats in the country as a crucial safeguard of the character and integrity of the Merdeka Constitution 1957 and Malaysia Agreement 1963.