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Sabah Law Society queries the relevance today of Nominated YBs
Published on: Friday, June 02, 2023
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Sabah Law Society queries the relevance today of Nominated YBs
Chin said the Sabah Constitution provides for the appointment of up to six whose rights and privileges are the same as elected assembly persons and are equal in all respects with elected representatives who together form the Sabah State Legislative Assembly and who may even become the Chief Minister.
Kota Kinabalu: The Sabah Law Society (SLS) said the time has come for Sabah to consider doing away with the need for Nominated Assembly members that was introduced only in Sabah at the time of independence by the colonial government as it is anachronistic.

“As monumental as what the Sabah anti-hop laws are, SLS notes with concern that such laws do not cover nominated assemblymen,” said SLS President Roger Chin in a statement. 

He said Sabah, with 73 state constituencies, has more than enough representation for all voices of the people of Sabah and with the Sabah nominated assembly people not being covered by the recently enacted anti-hopping laws but yet able to cause the downfall of a democratically elected government, the time has come for Sabah to take a good hard look at the need for nominated members and whether the system should be done away with for being anachronistic,” he said.

The purpose of the Nominated members were to ensure that minority voices or communities who would otherwise not have the chance to be represented in the Assembly would have another avenue of being heard.

However, the provision was abused by every winner after the first State election as a reward for cronies. Prior to the first state election in 1967, even Indians had a chance to be represented through a Nominated Assemblyman.

Chin said the Sabah Constitution provides for the appointment of up to six whose rights and privileges are the same as elected assembly persons and are equal in all respects with elected representatives who together form the Sabah State Legislative Assembly and who may even become the Chief Minister.

“It must be remembered that the nominated assembly person is appointed by the ruling government supposedly elected by the people. 

“Therefore these nominated assembly people should be supporting the government of the day.

“Notwithstanding that nominated assembly people do not have a constituency and are not elected, they nevertheless have the ability to form new State Governments notwithstanding they were appointed by the then ruling government chosen by the people and for this reason alone the Sabah anti-hop laws should have also applied to them.

“Sabah political history is replete with nominated assemblymen leaving the ruling government to join forces with the opposition to form governments not chosen by the people.

“In fact, there is precedence for such a call. 

“The Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) government in its wisdom, after winning the 1986 State elections, had taken action to amend Article 18(2)(d) of the state constitution (subsequently repealed) without prior consultation with Kuala Lumpur.

“The constitutional amendment, which was duly assented to by the Yang di-Pertua Negeri on May 20, 1986, amongst others, specified that those assembly members who left the party on whose platform they had been elected to join another party would have to resign and face a by-election. 

“The amendment was introduced in order to prevent the constant practice of unprincipled politicians switching parties in search of the best financial prize for their political allegiance.”

As a result of the amendment, an elected or nominated assemblyman who “resigns or is expelled from or for any other reason whatsoever ceases to be a member of the political party of which he is a member” would have to vacate their seat in the assembly.

“In the case of Sabah all nominated assembly people were appointed for their support of the then government,” he said.

Likewise, SLS also notes that with the repealing of Article 6(7) of the State Constitution by 75 out of the 79 members of the Sabah State Legislative Assembly, the Yang di-Pertua Negeri has effectively lost a guide on how a Chief Minister is to be appointed and given the unreliability of the use of Statutory Declarations as has been the method of choice by politicians in recent history to determine whether a member of the State Legislative Assembly commands the majority of the assembly, a definitive criteria on how to determine whether a member does indeed command such a majority should be set out to ensure certainty and transparency in the appointment of the Chief Minister.

 

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