KUCHING (Sept 19): A by-election for Jepak must be held due to the unexpected vacancy of the state seat which occurred more than two years before the automatic dissolution of the current State Legislative Assembly (DUN), said DUN Speaker Tan Sri Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar.
He said that in accordance with the Article 21(5) of the State Constitution, he has submitted a letter dated Sept 19, 2023 to the Election Commission (EC) chairman Tan Sri Abdul Ghani Salleh informing him of the vacant Jepak seat.
Quoting the Article 21(5) of the State Constitution, he said: “Whenever the seat of an elected member has become vacant for any reason other than a dissolution, the vacancy shall, within 60 days from the date on which it is established by the Election Commission that there is a vacancy, be filled by election in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.”
As such, he said the DUN will leave it to the safe hands of the EC to discuss among themselves to decide the dates for the by-election in Jepak.
“In this case in Jepak, since it is outside two years (before automatic dissolution of the DUN), there will be a by-election. I had through email, online communicated with the chairman of the Election Commission, informing him that there is a vacancy,” he told a press conference today.
The Jepak seat is now vacant following the demise of the incumbent Datuk Talib Zulpilip last Friday (Sept 15).
Talib has represented Jepak for six terms since the seat was introduced in the 1996 State Election.
He had successfully retained Jepak in the 2021 State Election by a 4,248 majority in a four-cornered fight.
The current term of the 19th DUN expires on Feb 14, 2027.
Asfia also said to be fair to the constituents in Jepak, a by-election needs to be held to elect a new assemblyman since the unexpected vacancy of the seat occurred more than two years before DUN is automatically dissolved.
“There is no choice. You have to fulfil the constitutional requirement that the seat has to be filled through a by-election, to be fair to the constituents in that area that they have a YB (elected representative) who look after them.
“Otherwise, there is no YB to look after the area. And it is outside two years, quite a long time,” he said.
On a personal note, Asfia said it took him a few days to call for the press conference out of respect for the Talib, who died at the age of 72.
Asfia said Talib was among the longest serving state assemblymen in the current DUN.
“It is such a tragic event, it was unexpected. He was young. So I take a few days to let things settle down before I call this press conference today,” he added.