Amendment bill: Sarawak has got nothing to lose, says Chong

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KUCHING, April 7: Sarawak Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman Chong Chieng Jen says the proposed amendment to Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution will be a better foundation for Sarawak and Sabah to later discuss and negotiate their rights under Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

He said Sarawak and Sabah have nothing to lose if the amendment goes through. In fact, he added, now that Sarawak and Sabah are two of the 13 states in the Federation of Malaysia, after the amendment goes through the two states would be another entity alongside the federation of the West Malaysian states.

“Tell me, what has Sarawak got to lose with this amendment? Is it you prefer to be one of the 13 states, or you prefer the two regions, i.e. the 11 states as a whole in West Malaysia and two states (Sarawak and Sabah) as one in East Malaysia?

“The answer is obvious that this is, in a way, restoring the rightful position of Sabah and Sarawak in line with the Federal Constitution,” he told a press conference alongside members of other state PH parties at Democratic Action Party (DAP) headquarters here this afternoon.

Members of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), Parti Amanah Negara and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) were also present at the press conference, including PKR vice-president Ali Biju and Amanah Sarawak chairman Fidzuan Zaidi.

Chong (seated second left) speaking to reporters on the proposed amendment to the Federal Constitution as Ali (seated first left), Fidzuan (seated second right) and other PH members look on.
Chong Chieng Jen

Chong, who is also Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, explained that the proposed amendment seeks to restructure the position of the states in Malaysia and make it right by restoring the status of Sarawak and Sabah back to their position under the original constitution prior to the 1976 amendment.

“That is the structure we are looking at. So my call to the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) is to put aside their ego and pride for the benefit of the Sarawak people. This is a restoration of the status of Sarawak and Sabah in line with the original Federal Constitution.

“And it is only the beginning. Let us get the foundation and the framework correct, then we proceed with devolution of powers, and further discussions for other matters,” he said.

Asked if the PH federal government would accept Sarawak’s request to postpone or re-amend the amendment, Chong said if the arguments by the GPS MPs and other opposition members stands to reason and could not be rebutted, then Parliament would consider.

“There will be a second reading; anyone can put up any argument. Walking out is definitely not a choice. It’s the worse of the choice when it comes to second reading. You can put forward any argument and if your argument stands to reason that cannot be rebutted I see no reason why it cannot be accepted. But the reason is that when it comes to drafting of any law there are always varying opinions.

“But let us not delve into the details side and lose sight of the whole forest by looking at the tree. The whole forest is the foundation of our country. Now with this amendment we (will) put right the legal framework, the status of Sarawak and Sabah in the Federation of Malaysia,” said Chong. — DayakDaily