Bill the first step in meeting what Sabahans, Sarawakians want, says Saratok MP

Ali Biju - file pic

By Geryl Ogilvy

KUCHING, April 9: The Bill to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution provides an opportunity to correct the inequities that have affected Sabah’s and Sarawak’s rights for 43 years.

Saratok MP Ali Biju said the amendment reflected the promise made by Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) in its election manifesto since the 2011 state election to restore the status of Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners with Peninsular Malaysia in the federation.

He added that PKR had been consistent in its struggles to fight for Sabah’s and Sarawak’s rights as the promise was also absorbed in the then Pakatan Rakyat’s manifesto in the 2013 general election, 2016 Sarawak state election and the 2018 general election under Pakatan Harapan (PH).

“We made a mistake 43 years ago, where the previous administration in 1976 had amended Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution to downgrade Sabah and Sarawak to become states in Malaysia, inadvertently destroying the most important matter in the birth of the nation, where Sarawak and Sabah are equal partners in the Federation of Malaysia.

“I can only express my gratitude to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, our Law Minister, Cabinet members and fellow Pakatan Harapan colleagues for giving due attention to the desires and wishes of Sabahans and Sarawakians by tabling the Bill to position Sabah and Sarawak in its rightful status,” Ali said when debating the amendment bill after its second reading in Parliament today.

The PKR lawmaker described the Bill as the first step to meeting what Sabahans and Sarawakians had been longing after being ignored for so long.

He urged Sabah and Sarawak MPs on both sides of the political divide to stand united with their peninsula colleagues to support the Bill and restore Sabah’s and Sarawak’s status as equal partners according to the formation of Malaysia in 1963.

Ali expressed satisfaction that the Bill tabled by Dr Mahathir has been amended to reflect the content of Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution pre-1976.

He gave assurance that Dr Mahathir and Pakatan Harapan would make more legislative changes if the Bill was passed to meet the desires and wishes of Sabah and Sarawak.

“This is just the beginning. It doesn’t stop here. There will be more amendments as the (Malaysia Agreement 1963 or MA63) steering committee and the technical committee continues to smoothen issues involving Sabah’s and Sarawak’s rights.

“This amendment will put Sabah and Sarawak on the right track and strengthen their positions to continue discussions,” he said.

Ali also touched on a conversation he had with former Saratok MP Datuk Seri Edmund Langgu Saga, who was a deputy minister in 1976.

“Langgu, who is 83 now, told me that he has been waiting 43 years for the opportunity to correct the mistake made in 1976. He was happy when I told him that amendment to Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution will restore the status of Sarawak according to MA63.

“As a deputy minister at the time, he openly expressed that he was responsible, albeit a ‘collective responsibility’, for the mistake that was made. He was grateful for the chance to see Sarawak’s rights restored,” he said.

Ali supported the Bill to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution. — DayakDaily