Why Anwar must move fast on East Malaysia seat share
Published on: Monday, February 06, 2023
By: FMT, Tsubasa Nair
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Why Anwar must move fast on East Malaysia seat share
Anwar Ibrahim’s government depends on the support of MPs from East Malaysia to remain in power. (Bernama pic)
PETALING JAYA: A political scientist has cautioned against any delay in apportioning one-third of Dewan Rakyat seats to Sabah and Sarawak, after a minister said the process would take two to three years.

James Chin of University of Tasmania said it was important that the process be completed sooner rather than later, as Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s hold on power depended on the support of MPs from Sabah and Sarawak.

If the process were to take too long, and Anwar’s government collapsed within that time, “everything would fall apart”, he said.

Chin, a professor of Asian studies, said Anwar’s current two-thirds parliamentary majority was not solid, as the coalitions backing him could withdraw their support at any moment.

Anwar’s unity government has the support of nearly all East Malaysian MPs, namely those from Gabungan Parti Sarawak, Gabungan Rakyat Sabah, Warisan and Parti Kesejahteraan Demokratik Masyarakat.

On Thursday, deputy prime minister Fadillah Yusof said the seat-share process had to go through many stages including three committees.

Another analyst, Council of Professors fellow Jeniri Amir, said the three-year timeline was realistic.

Although it was vital for Anwar to deliver on the plan, it was unlikely that East Malaysian parties would withdraw their support for him even if the seat-share did not come about within the three-year period.

“To be fair to him, he’s not taken on a low-hanging fruit. It’s not just an administrative measure. This requires amendments to the Federal Constitution,” he said.

Jeniri said any increase in seats for Sabah and Sarawak should be done in tandem with a review of electoral boundaries to ensure a fairer distribution of votes.

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