Bill to amend constitution a letdown — Fadillah

Fadillah (centre) with other GPS leaders and MPs of Sabah at the press conference at the Parliament lobby after de-facto Law Minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong tabled the two-line amendment to Federal Constitution Article 1(2) today (April 4, 2019).

By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, April 4: The proposed amendment to Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution is for cosmetic or “window dressing” purpose only. That is the view of Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) MPs.

To them, it did not directly meet the aspirations and real wishes of the people of Sarawak.

“We are grateful and appreciate the efforts of the Federal Government for making the amendment, but we feel it is in a hurry without giving enough opportunity to the stakeholders as well as all those involved in studying and discussing the essence of the proposed amendment before it is tabled in Parliament.

“The amendments should be thoroughly refined by taking into account the views of all parties or stakeholders at the Federal, Sarawak and Sabah levels.

“GPS, therefore, recommends the amendment to be postponed until negotiations at the Special Cabinet Committee, chaired by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on Sarawak’s and Sabah’s rights under the Malaysian Agreement 1963 (MA63), are finalised,” said GPS chief whip Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof during a press conference today.

He said this was because the fundamental issues regarding the rights and the special privileges of Sarawak, including the rights that have been eroded, were not included in the proposed amendment.

Two examples were cited. The first was Article 160, which defines ‘federal’ with reference to the Federation of Malaya Agreement 1957. Thus, it only involves Peninsular Malaysia.

Secondly, the number of MPs, elected representatives and senators, as well as Federal Cabinet Ministers, must reflect that Sarawak, Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia are of three equal partnerships.

“In other words, the amendments must reflect the spirit of MA63, which is to be read together with the Report on Inter-governmental Committee (IGC) and the Federal Constitution,” asserted Fadillah.

He said the Sarawak legislature also stipulated that any amendment that affects Sarawak should be brought to the Sarawak Legislative Assembly first before being passed in Parliament.

“What is most crucial to Sarawak is that the overall amendment involves the rights that should be returned to Sarawak and not merely to change Sarawak’s status as a partner.

“This is because the change of status does not include the eroded rights to be returned to Sarawak. The amendment means nothing and it is not what Sarawak government and its people have been fighting for all this while,” said Fadillah.

The proposed amendment to Article 1(2) simply removes Sarawak and Sabah from the list of Malaysian states and placed them under a different category.

The initial Article 1(2) states that ‘The States of the Federation shall be Johore, Kedah, Kelantan, Malacca, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Penang, Perak, Perlis, Sabah, Sarawak, Selangor and Terengganu’.

The proposed amendment states that ‘the States of the Federation shall be (a) Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Perak, Perlis, Pulau Pinang, Selangor and Terengganu, and (b) Sabah and Sarawak’.

The attached description stated that the Bill proposes to replace the old amendment with the new one, where all states to return to their original status as at the time when Malaysia was formed in 1963. — DayakDaily