By Geryl Ogilvy
KUCHING, April 3: Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah is wondering if there is any hidden agenda behind the Bill to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution as it has not been made available to all MPs.
The Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports said by right, the Bill to restore Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners to Peninsular Malaysia in the Malaysian federation should have been distributed before it is tabled in Parliament next week.
He added that it should be standard practice for a Bill, whether it is to amend the Constitution or introduce a new Act, be distributed to all lawmakers at least a week before tabling to ensure all elected representatives have time to study the Bill and prepare their debates.
“In the state, whenever a Bill is to be tabled, it will be distributed to all elected representatives a week before the (state legislative assembly) sitting. In this regards, why should we wait till the last minute of the bill’s tabling before it is distributed? Even several Pakatan Harapan MPs admitted to not having seen the Bill.
“Pakatan has been harping for Sabah and Sarawak MPs to support the Bill, but we don’t even know what is the content. We don’t even know what to support,” Abdul Karim told reporters after chairing the Sarawak Tourism steering committee meeting here today.
Asajaya assemblyman Abdul Karim reminded that Sabah and Sarawak MPs needed to study whether the amendment guarantees fair equity in all related matters.
“In Parliament, if the amendment involves the Constitution that requires two-thirds support to be passed, involving important national matters, especially this Bill that involves federal-state relations, all lawmakers must be given time to read the Bill and prepare their debate.
“This, especially, considering that the intention to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution have been made public for weeks,” he reiterated.
When asked for his opinion whether the amendment to Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution is considered a piecemeal and should cover the whole scope (other laws that affect state rights), Abdul Karim deemed this as a good start, as a comprehensive study would take years.
He cited a study on the financial aspect under Article 112 alone would take quite some time to deliberate.
He hoped the amendment would lead to a series of adjustments to put everything on the right platform.
“When we look in the past 55 years, the Malaysian Constitution is the most amended when compared to other countries throughout the world. The Constitution has undergone a series of amendments and, along the way, eroded so many of Sabah’s and Sarawak’s rights.
“To get back what we lost in one parliamentary sitting might not be possible. That is why we have the Cabinet steering committee as well as the technical committee, which will discuss the matter further,” he said.
De facto Law Minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong was reported as saying yesterday (April 2) that the proposed Bill could not be made public as it was still a memorandum cabinet paper under the Officials Secrets Act.
The blue paper (details of the amendment) will be distributed to the MPs once it is tabled, he said, adding that a pre-council meeting would be held to explain the details of the amendment. — DayakDaily