Article 1(2) amendment bill fails to get two-thirds majority

The Parliament building in Kuala Lumpur.

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by Karen Bong and Nancy Nais

KUALA LUMPUR, April 9: The Amendment to Federal Constitution Article 1(2) Bill did not pass in Parliament following its failure to obtain a two-thirds majority.

In total, only 138 Members of Parliament (MPs) voted for it while 59 abstained. There were no votes against it.

Santubong MP Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar has tabled a motion under Standing Order 54 to seek that the Bill to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution be referred to a special select committee.

The Speaker of the House Datuk Mohd Ariff Yusof then asked members to voice out whether they agreed or not but as the result was not clear, a division vote took place in the House.

In the division, the result was 60 voted for it while 136 voted against and one abstained so it did not reach the two-thirds majority and thus the bill cannot be referred to a special select committee.

As the Bill was moved, the voting result also failed to reach a two-thirds majority so the Bill was not passed.

Earlier, after the second reading of the amendment Bill was tabled by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed at 2.30pm, the Bill was keenly debated by 46 MPs for eight long hours.

Dr Mahathir, who is also the Langkawi MP, in his winding-up of the Bill, emphasised that this amendment was the manifestation of the first step by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government to translate the aspirations of the people in Sabah and Sarawak who wanted the status of Sabah and Sarawak to be restored to its original position during the formation of Malaysia in 1963.

“This is in line with the spirit and aspirations of Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63),” he told the House.

Based on the views in the debate, he observed that many were quite confused with the history of the formation of Federation of Malaya followed by the formation of Malaysia Federation.

“The Federation of Malaya was created as a result of the agreement between states in Malaya and the British government which was reached to cease the British rule in the straits settlements. The Federation of Malaya 1957 was given birth to from the agreement achieved between the British government and states in Malaya much earlier which had united under the Federation Agreement 1948,” he elaborated.

“The Federation Agreement 1948 was the result of the struggles of the people in the Malayan states against the Malayan Union. As such, the Federation of Malaya 1957 agreed to unite with Sabah and Sarawak to form Malaysia Agreement 1963,” he said.

The Malayan Federation which comprised of Malayan states and Straits Settlements, he added, have its own entity and identity and were ready to receive Sabah and Sarawak as one family in the Malaysia Federation.

“The Malayan Federation 1957 also agreed to be part of Malaysia without declaration and pressing for name and identity of Malayan Federation 1957,” he said.

The government, Dr Mahathir continued, viewed that in line with the Malaysia Federation created and worked according to the national federalism system, all members of the House were part of the legislation in the Federation level who in fact represented respective constituencies for the good and future of the Federation and each and every area and constituency has equal rights to voice out and represent all the people in their constituencies at the Federation level.

“In federalism, we have to respect the rights and obligations of every partner who created the Federation. Thus to appreciate the equal partnership in the nation, as enshrined in the Constitution that the federal government has the authority in certain matters and as such, the rights and authority must continue to be implemented and continued to be given the freedom and authority to carry out the obligation for the prosperity and future of the nation,” he said.

“If Sabah and Sarawak wish to share authority, then this matter must be negotiated together in the Committee that has been set up by the federal government,” he added.

Responding to some of the issues raised by members of the House, Dr Mahathir stated that the agreement made was between three entities namely the Federation of Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak. The status of the Malaya Federation is unchanged and in turn, became part of the Malaysia government together with representatives from Sabah and Sarawak.

“The government formed is a government for the whole of Malaysia. It is different from the original federal government, even though the agreement between states in the Peninsula remained.

On the Select Committee, he said the amendment to Article 1(2) had been agreed to by the Special Cabinet Committee to study the MA63 and this was the first step by the PH government to realise the aspiration and hope of the people of Sabah and Sarawak.

“The PH government viewed that referring to the Select Committee on the legislation is not needed considering that the aim of the amendment is very clear which was to restore the provision relating to states in the Federation to its original postion when the Federation of Malaysia was formed with needed amendment,” he said.

“Any special demand relating to Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak, the three entities can negotiate to iron out the demands from any party,” he added. — DayakDaily