Bill tabled to ensure only Sarawakians can be state lawmakers

Abdul Karim presenting amendment bill at DUN today (Nov 10, 2020). Screenshot taken from the Sarawak Public Communications Unit (Ukas) livestream of DUN proceedings.

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By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, Nov 11: Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah tabled an amendment bill to allow only Sarawakians to be elected as state representatives and to lower the minimum age of representation in the august House from 21 to 18.

He said Article 16 of the Constitution of the State of Sarawak (also) provides for a criteria qualifying a person to be elected as a member of the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) to be a ‘resident in the State’.

The same qualification is also stated in Section 5 of Part I of the Eighth Schedule of the Federal Constitution.

Abdul Karim (PBB-Asajaya) pointed out that however, the definition is neither provided in the Federal Constitution nor in the Constitution of the State of Sarawak. As guaranteed by the Malaysian Agreement 1963, Article 161E (4) of the Federal Constitution read together with the Immigration Act 1959/63 [Act 155], the State Authority is empowered to determine matters relating to residence and right of entry into the State.

“Therefore, this amendment to incorporate the definition of ‘resident in the State’ is intended to clarify such qualification of ‘resident in the State’ within the confines of the State’s constitutional authority,” said Abdul Karim.

He said the amendment to the definition of ‘resident in the State’ is tied up with Section 71 of the Immigration Act 1959/63 [Act 155] to ensure the definition is consistent with such provision on persons being treated as belonging to an East Malaysian state as provided in the Immigration Act 1959/63 [Act 155].

On the proposal to lower the age of representation in the DUN, Abdul Karim disclosed this is so that the age of qualification is in tandem with the amendment to Section 5 of the Eighth Schedule to the Federal Constitution.

“This amendment is significant to ensure the provision of the State Constitution is consistent with the provision of the Federal Constitution,” said Abdul Karim while presenting the bill at the DUN sitting here today.

He said the Federal Constitution (Amendment) Act 2019 [Act A1603] which was passed by Parliament on July 16, 2019 and came into force on Sept 10, 2019 had inter alia amended the age of qualification of persons to be elected as an elected member of the State Legislative Assembly from 21 to 18 in Section 5 of Part I of the Eighth Schedule of the Federal Constitution.

“Article 71(4) of the Federal Constitution requires the Constitution of any State to have the provisions substantially to the same effect of provisions in Part I of the Eighth Schedule which are regarded as “the essential provisions,” said Abdul Karim. — DayakDaily