Amendment Bill seeks to define lawmaker citizenship criteria and lower minimum age

Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah —file pic

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By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, Nov 8: An amendment Bill will be tabled at the coming Sarawak Legislative Assembly session which starts tomorrow to allow only Sarawakians to be elected as state representatives, and also to lower the minimum age of representation from 21 to 18.

This was revealed by Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah who will be tabling the bill.


According to Abdul Karim, the Constitution of the State of Sarawak (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 Bill seeks “to provide for the amendment of the Constitution of the State of Sarawak in respect of matters relating to qualification of members of the Dewan Undangan Negeri”.

He told DayakDaily that the amendment will provide the definition of ‘resident in the State’ to be consistent with the state’s constitutional powers to determine who is entitled to enter and reside in Sarawak where “resident in the state” according to the Bill will mean “a citizen belonging to the State of Sarawak in accordance with Section 71 of the Immigration Act 1959/63”.

According to Article 71(1) of the Federal Constitution (persons to be treated as belonging to East Malaysian State) must fulfil the following criteria:

(1) For purposes of section 66, a citizen shall be treated as belonging to an East Malaysian state if-

(a) he is or has within the preceding two years been a permanent resident in the East Malaysian state; or
(b) he became a citizen in any of the following ways, that is to say-
(i) by operation of law on Malaysian Day in respect of his being a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies ordinarily resident in the State;
(ii) by operation of law on or after Malaysia Day in respect of his birth in Malaysia and of one of his parents being at the time of the birth a permanent resident in the East Malaysian state; or
(iii) by registration in respect of his being on Malaysia Day ordinarily resident in the East Malaysian state.

It is speculated that the need to table the amendment arises following the case of former Pujut assemblyman Dr Ting Tiong Choon who was disqualified as a lawmaker after he was found to possess “dual citizenship” which Dr Ting denounced before being nominated as a candidate for Pujut.

Meanwhile, the same Bill will also seek to lower the minimum age of Sarawak’s elected representatives from 21 to 18.

Article 16 states: “Every citizen of or over the age of 21 years who is resident in the state is qualified to be elected as an elected member of the Dewan Undangan Negeri, unless he is disqualified for being such a member of the Federal Constitution or this Constitution or by any such law as is mentioned in Article 17.”

Abdul Karim who is the Asajaya assemblyman said the Constitution of the State of Sarawak (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 Bill will seek to lower the minimum age of persons to be qualified to be elected as an elected member of the DUN where the words “twenty-one” will be replaced by “eighteen”. — DayakDaily