By Peter Sibon
KUCHING, Sept 17: The bid to restore Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners with Peninsular Malaysia did not fail when it was tabled in Parliament in April.
Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing pointed out that the 18 Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) MPs have abstained from voting for the bill because the state ruling coalition insisted the amendment should have included the special status of Sarawak and Sabah under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
The Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president disagreed with Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who said in his Malaysia Day celebration speech yesterday, that the bid had failed after failing to achieve two-thirds majority on April 10.
A total of 138 MPs voted in favour, 59 abstained and none objected to the amendment of Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution. The bill did not pass after falling short of 10 votes for the two-thirds majority.
“Equal partner status demand wasn’t defeated in Parliament. What was defeated was a constitutional amendment which ignored, among others, the term, ‘In pursuance of MA63’.
“By ignoring MA63, Putrajaya was pulling a fast one on Sarawak and Sabah and hoped that the two eastern states will be part of the 11 federated Malay states and not regions,” he said in a statement.
Masing said since then, Putrajaya agreed to review the bill to be inclusive of Sarawak’s requirements.
In this regards, he claimed that Dr Mahathir was not telling the truth in saying that the defeat of the bill was because Sarawak refused to be on equal status with Malaya.
“Let’s play honest politics for once, otherwise, Malaysia as a nation will never be fully united,” Masing continued.
A total of 41 MPs abstained from voting including Umno and PAS. — DayakDaily