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Sarawak State Legislative Assembly

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Sarawak State Legislative Assembly

 

History of the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly

 

          The first Sarawak State Legislative Assembly meeting in Sarawak, initially known as the General Council, commenced on the 8th of September 1867 at Bintulu, Sarawak. The meeting was chaired by Rajah Charles Brooke. Excluding Rajah Charles Brooke as President, the General Council comprised of five (5) British Officers and 16 Muslim Malay and Melanau local community leaders to assist in the administration of the territories under the reign of Rajah Brooke which, during that time only covers the coastal areas. The main issue discussed during the meeting were on matters of great importance to the people of Sarawak. In 1903, in tandem with the change of time, the General Council meeting began its transition into a meeting known as the Council Negri.

 

          In 1941, a new written constitution was enacted whereupon the members of the Council Negri were increased to 25 consisting official and unofficial members appointed by the Rajah in Council. Immediately after the Japanese occupation in 1946, Sarawak witness the convention of the Council Negri to end the reign of the White Rajah’s Family in Sarawak and the surrender of Sarawak to the British Colonies. In 1956, the membership of the Council Negri increased to 45 members comprising of 14 Ex-officio members, 24 elected members, four (4) nominated members and three (3) Standing members. Members of the Council Negri were appointed by the District Advisory Council and three local councils (Kuching, Sibu and Miri) had several appointed representatives from their respective constituency.

 

          In 1968, the Council Negri membership increased to 48 members to represent their respective constituency (one representative per constituency). The name Council Negri was changed to Sarawak State Legislative Assembly or Dewan Undangan Negeri Sarawak (hereinafter referred to as “DUNS”) in 1976 in tandem with other State Legislatures in Malaysia and its membership was expanded in 1985 to 56 democratically elected members by the people from the 56 constituencies. The DUNS membership subsequently increased to 62 and 71 members in the year 1996 and 2006 respectively. The latest delineation of the constituencies was done in 2016 which resulted in DUNS increasing their membership to 81 elected members.

 

            Malaysia is a country which adopts parliamentary democratic system and practices the doctrine of separation of powers which consists of three (3) major branches of the Government, namely the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary. This doctrine of separation of powers are practiced at the Federal and State level including the State of Sarawak. One of the main functions of DUNS is to enact laws under the "State List" and “Concurrent List” as provided in the Federal Constitution of Malaysia.

 

              Pursuant to the Constitution of the State of Sarawak, His Excellency Tuan Yang Terutama (T.Y.T.) Yang di-Pertua Negeri Sarawak (hereinafter referred to as “The Governor”) has the right and authority to call or to dissolve the DUNS. His Excellency The Governor also has the power to assent Bills passed by DUNS.

 

          Generally, DUNS consist of the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker and assemblymen (hereinafter referred to as “ADUNS”) whom are elected through the Sarawak State Elections to represent their respective constituency. The Secretary of DUNS supervises the administration and management of DUNS.