By Lian Cheng
KUCHING, April 6: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg today equates supporting an amendment that does not bring about actual benefits to committing a fraud on the people of Sarawak.
“The state government reiterates its support for any amendment of laws that will genuinely bring about substantive benefits to the state and its people.
“(But) to support an amendment that does not bring about actual benefits would be tantamount to committing a fraud on the people of Sarawak,” he told a press conference after officiating at the earth-breaking ceremony for the coastal road project from Sarikei-Tanjong Manis to Mukah/Jabatan Batang Rajang in Sarikei.
Abang Johari also stated that although the state government had intended to amend Article 1(2) in principle, no approval was given in respect of the amendment in its current form.
He added that the Steering Committee had also never discussed the actual contents and wordings of the amendment.
“I have highlighted at the first Steering Committee meeting that our discussions and decisions should be within the parameters of the Federal Constitution and the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63)
“Furthermore, any decision, particularly on an issue as important as this, would require me to obtain the mandate of the Consultative Committee established by the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly.
“My stand has always been consistent. And this is that we will support any amendment to the Federal Constitution or any law that seeks to restore the rights of Sarawak as intended by the parties to the MA63.
“However, these amendments must be of a substantive nature and not merely in form,” he emphasised.
Abang Johari pointed out that when the proposal to amend Article 1(2) was raised by Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Shafie Apdal during the first Steering Committee Meeting on MA63, it was Sarawak’s stand to support this amendment in principle.
“When this proposal was subsequently brought to the first Technical Committee Meeting on Jan 14, 2019, the representatives from Sarawak was instructed by me to submit a written view.
“This view was that we support the amendment to Article 1(2) provided it comes with an amendment to Article 160(2) on the definition of ‘the Federation’. The reason for this is that we felt that an amendment on Article 1(2) alone does not fully address the aspirations of the people of Sarawak.
“By Amending Article 160(2), a reference to the Malaysia Agreement 1963 should be made in the Federation Constitution. The Federal Constitution, in its current form, makes no reference to MA63,” he pointed out.
He also revealed that the first Technical Committee Meeting then decided that no piecemeal amendments would be made to the Federal Constitution.
“Indeed, it was agreed that a holistic amendment would be made to the completion of the process for the review of the implementation of MA63.
“The target is for these amendments to be tabled during the third sitting of Parliament scheduled in October 2019.
“This matter was not discussed further at the subsequent Steering Committee Meeting. However, we were then informed of the decision to amend Article 1(2) at this coming Parliamentary sitting. We then communicated our views to the federal government,” he said.
He said the state government’s view was that a singular amendment to Article 1(2) would not achieve its purpose unless accompanied by other substantive amendments, amongst others, an amendment to Article 160(2).
“We were also of the view that this amendment would be more appropriate if tabled after important substantive decisions had been made on the issues deliberated by the MA63 Committees.
“I hope with this clarification, no devious allegations would be made against the state government as being not supportive of the amendment,” he said.
Abang Johari was responding to the uproar that ignited after the proposed amendment to Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution was tabled for first reading on Thursday (April 4) as well as news quoting de-facto Law Minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong as saying that Putrajaya’s intention to amend Article 1(2) had already received the approval of Sabah and Sarawak Chief Ministers during the Special Cabinet Committee for MA63 meeting. — DayakDaily