Amending constitution: Let Sarawakians have their say first, suggests S4S

Lucas Chin

KUCHING, April 4: Sarawakians should have been allowed to hold a referendum on the restoration of Sarawak’s status and rights before the Bill to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution was tabled in Parliament.

Sarawak for Sarawakians (S4S) spokesperson Lucas Chin reckoned the people should be allowed to decide and voice out what’s best for them before the federal government table the Bill to restore Sabah’s and Sarawak’s status as equal partners to Peninsular Malaysia in the Federation of Malaysia.

“The amendment to the Federal Constitution, before the Bill was tabled, should have listened to (sic) the people of Sarawak whether they agree or not.

“We have been sceptical about the amendment, especially considering that there was no revelation of the content of the Bill. We support things that benefit Sarawak, but in this regards, this seems to be uncertain,” he said in a statement.

Chin said the movement supported the stand of Sabah opposition leader Datuk Jeffrey Kitingan, who urged the federal government to defer the amendment of Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution for more consultations with all stakeholders.

The Keningau MP said many other amendments would be needed in order to restore the equal partnership status.

Among others, he suggested:

(1) The Malaysian flag should be changed to reflect a federation of three nation states (Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak) and not 13 states and the federal territories.

(2) The head of state of Sabah and Sarawak should be styled as the “Yang di-Pertua Negara”, as was the case in 1963.

(3) Each of the three-nation states should have a head of state, and there should be a federal head of state for Malaysia.

(4) The representation of MPs, both elected representatives and senators – as well as the Cabinet – should be revised to reflect the equal partnership.

“Jeffrey is consistent with his struggle and that is something we, as Sarawakians, can learn from. We know our function in this federation but our rights have been eroded.

“If there is no benefit within Malaysia, maybe we (the people of Sabah and Sarawak) can opt to leave the federation,” Chin opined.

Meanwhile, the Bill to amend Article 1(2) was tabled for its first reading by de facto Law Minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong at the Dewan Rakyat today, amidst protest by several lawmakers.

The second reading would be held next week. The Bill seeks to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution by separating Sabah and Sarawak from the other states in the federation.

The new Clause (2) seeks to specify all the constituent states of the federation by restoring, with modifications, the provision during the formation of Malaysia in 1963. This amendment is made in line with the spirit of the Malaysia Agreement concluded in 1963.

“This amendment does not, in any way, alter the functions of the federal and state governments under the concept of federalism,” the Bill reads.

Currently, Sabah and Sarawak are read together with the other 11 states in the federation under a single clause. — DayakDaily