By Nigel Edgar
KUCHING, April 8: Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah is questioning the sincerity of state Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman Chong Chieng Jen in pushing for the Bill to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution to go through.
He said there was no reason for the PH government to rush the Bill, but they had dishonoured Sarawak by only revealing the Bill hours before it was tabled for first reading on April 4. Hence, Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) MPs did not have the time to study it and come up with a debate.
“This is why a lot of Sarawakians and Sabahans are upset. Even Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad knows why this is happening.
“That is where we feel there is a hidden agenda, when the bill was only presented to the MPs at the 11th hour, last minute, just before the sitting. That means there is a hidden bad intention. That is the thing we are questioning,” Abdul Karim told reporters when asked to comment on Chong’s statement yesterday that Sarawak had got nothing to lose with the amendment of Article 1(2).
Abdul Karim explained that Sarawak’s rights as per Malaysia Agreement 1963 would not be restored with the amendment because in the original Federal Constitution when MA63 was signed, Persekutuan Tanah Melayu, Sabah and Sarawak are three separate entities out of five signatories, including Singapore and the British Government.
“The YB Chong that I know before was a fighter. But now looks like he is no more a fighter. If he says that Sarawak has got nothing to lose, as a lawyer, he should look back at what is the Article that is being amended and the wording of that Article.
“He should be able to digest and understand what we have been fighting for, what has been mentioned by Tun Mahathir on Sept 16, 2018, in Kota Kinabalu, whereby Sabah, Sarawak and Persekutuan Tanah Melayu are considered to be equal partners in the formation of Malaysia.
“But the amendment to Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution does not portray that. Instead, it further entrenched Sarawak as equal to Perlis, Perak and other states in the Persekutuan Tanah Melayu,” he argued.
Abdul Karim also told Chong to read the Article again, where the amended version did not even mention the Malayan and the Borneon States like the original constitution prior to the 1976 amendment.
Yesterday, Chong told a press conference that Sarawak had got nothing to lose if the Bill was passed.
In fact, he added, Sarawak would be a step closer to restoring its rights based on the MA63 as it would have its status at a better position to negotiate once the amendment is passed.
“And it is only the beginning. Let us get the foundation and the framework correct, then we proceed with the devolution of powers and further discussions for other matters,” suggested Chong. — DayakDaily