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By Karen Bong
KUCHING, April 12: Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) is fighting for the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), which formed the basis of the formation of Malaysia, to be recognised by the federal government and reflected in the Federal Constitution.
Santubong MP Dato Sri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar emphasised that MA63 was not some side agreement outside of the Federal Constitution. It must be included to have the force of law.
“MA63 and equal partnership cannot be found in the present Federal Constitution. The federal government’s recent proposal was to revert the clause back to the original wording in 1963 but still, it did not reflect nor recognise MA63 and Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners.
“So, the question is, where are we (Sarawak and Sabah) in the Federal Constitution?” he said at a press conference after meeting Public Works Department (PWD) officials at its office in Batu Lintang here today.
Wan Junaidi stressed that GPS was not asking for too much but simple amendments to the Federal Constitution to reflect and recognised the spirit of MA63 and equal partnership.
“Even in the Prime Minister’s explanation, he clearly stated and acknowledged that the founding of the Federal Constitution was 1957 and not 1963.”
He, thus, emphasised that a thorough study on the Federal Constitution was crucial to make things right and perfect the imperfections in the document.
“We do not want cosmetic changes but substantive change, including doing away with all the laws that have been passed not in compliance with the Federal Constitution because they do not apply to Sarawak.”
All the law passed without following the constitutional guidelines, he shared, include the Petroleum Development Act 1974, Continental Shelf Act 1966, Petroleum Mining Act 1966 and Territorial Act 2012.
He cited Article 2(b) of the Federal Constitution which reads: “A federal law altering the boundaries of any State shall not be passed without the consent of that state legislature and the Conference of Rulers.
“Our state legislature never approved this, but they used the Emergency (Essential Power) Act 1979 to erode and encroach the rights of Sarawak. This is against the retrospective law for jurisprudence, which should not be enacted as per meeting in New Delhi in 1952.
“They are not protecting and respecting the Constitution, which they should. So, please remove these laws. They can apply it in the Peninsula if all the states agreed, go ahead, but Sarawak and Sabah are opposing.”
Recognising that MA63 as the foundation of Malaysia, Wan Junaidi also pointed out that representation in the august House must be proportionate to reflect the spirit of the two-thirds majority but which was lacking at present, with the Peninsular having 176 seats, while Sabah (25) and Sarawak (31).
“After Singapore left in 1965, the seats belonged to them (Peninsular). So, 56 seats (Sabah and Sarawak combined) against 176 seats … we must not have less than one-third so that they cannot pass any law governing Sabah and Sarawak principally without our consent.
“We don’t want Sarawak to be hoodwinked. We are doing this for the future of all Sarawakians and the next generation. I am 73 (years old already), we want Sarawakians to know that we (GPS) are fighting for you.
“Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg is very well aware of this. This is what we are fighting for. This is the way we will protect Sarawak.”
On moving forward, Wan Junaidi assured that negotiations between the leaders would continue in the Special Steering Cabinet Committee to review the MA63 and the constitutional amendment bill could be tabled again.
“The prime minister is a leader with wisdom, who fully understands the political question as well as the aspirations and demands of Sarawakians pertaining to MA63.”
He reiterated that GPS would fully support the amendment bill provided that the spirit of MA63 was reflected and included in the amendment.
On whether there was a timeframe to retable the bill, he said he had not spoken to the State Attorney-General in relation to this but pointed out that there should not be any limit in the law as many amendments had been made to the Federal Constitution since 1963.
“This means an amendment to the Federal Constitution can be made any time. There is no barrier to the amendment but only the will of the people doing the law.
“We will see in seven months time when the Steering Committee complete their meeting, so we don’t preempt the sincerity of the Peninsular or deny and undermine their sincerity to give back what belonged to us.
“We are not making enemy with Chong Chieng Jen (Stampin MP and Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs) or Baru Bian (Sarawak PKR chairman and Works Minister) because we are fighting for the same thing but don’t play politics and make sure it is the correct thing for Sarawak,” he added, while urging the country’s lawmakers to not let Sabah and Sarawak down in this matter. — DayakDaily