BINTULU, Sept 16 — Tan Sri Abang Johari said today the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) did not expressly say how much parliamentary representation Sarawak, Sabah, and Singapore would get when joining the federation.
However, the Sarawak premier said the Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) Report still provided assurance that the interests of these territories would be protected at all times.
Singapore was expelled from the Federation of Malaysia in 1965.
“In the past, Sarawak and Sabah were not given the opportunity to voice out our concern on the special rights and privileges enjoyed by the two territories based on the MA63 and IGC Report,” he said at the state-level Malaysia Day celebration here.
He added now the two territories have the opportunity to discuss the MA63 as a “family”, with the setting up of a federal ministry to oversee and correct the deficiencies in its implementation.
He said last week a discussion was held on the composition of members of parliament from peninsular Malaysia, Sarawak and Sabah, with the intention to ensure that two Borneo territories get the 35 per cent of the Parliament seats.
“We in Sarawak and Sabah have to ensure that our rights and privileges are always protected and safeguarded in Parliament and that the wants of some federal leaders are not imposed or lord over upon us to our detriment and loss.
“Some of our rights have been eroded in the last 59 years because we did not have the power to effectively object in Parliament to laws that were either unintentionally or purposely enacted to infringe our rights.
“We only want our rights back, no more no less,” Abang Johari stressed.
He said presently, there is an unhealthy imbalance in Parliament as Sarawak and Sabah only have a total of 56 seats or 25 per cent out of the total of 222.
“Although Sarawak’s population is small, I believe it can be done so that Sarawak can have more parliamentary seats as creation of a constituency is not purely based on the size of population according to the Westminster system that we copied from the United Kingdom.
“Even in the UK, parliamentary representation is not solely based on population but also on the size of a particular seat.
“Should a seat be considered based only on population then remote places with scattered population like Ulu Baram, Belaga and Ulu Rajang will not merit representation, which is not the case as we know it,” the premier said.