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By Geryl Ogilvy
KUCHING, April 9: Hulu Rajang MP Datuk Wilson Ugak Kumbong has described the Bill to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution as being rushed and an insult to Sarawakians.
He viewed the Bill, tabled by de facto Law Minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong for its first reading at the Dewan Rakyat on April 4, as being rhetoric and “without any intention to bring about a permanent change to provide real benefits to the people of Sarawak”.
After the first reading, many non-Pakatan Harapan (PH) MPs, including Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) lawmakers, had expressed their disappointment and negative views on the proposed amendment.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad tabled the second reading of the Bill today, with amendments to the wording to follow that of the 1963 version of Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution.
“During the Malaysia Day celebration last year, the Langkawi MP (Dr Mahathir) had declared the government’s commitment to restoring Sabah and Sarawak’s status as equal partners as enshrined in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
“Please make the promise to the people of Sarawak a realisation. I’m sure the people of Sarawak will be indebted to the Langkawi MP if our rights are restored and strengthened as soon as possible,” Ugak said when debating the Bill in Parliament.
On criticisms by politicians in Peninsular Malaysia that efforts to restore the status of Sabah and Sarawak were part of a political ploy of GPS, he stated that it was too important an issue to be politicised and that it was for the future generations of Sarawakians.
“We in GPS have interest in the fate of our fellow Sarawakians in our agenda. This is not politicking; it is about the dignity of Sarawak,” Ugak said.
He reminded his fellow lawmakers that the MA63 was based on the Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) Report and could not be amended by the Dewan Rakyat while MA63 is an international agreement registered with the United Nations (with serial number 10760).
“Where is the spirit of MA63 in this amendment? We in Sarawak feel that we have been sidelined, despite the Agreement stating us as equal partners.
“Sabah and Sarawak have never become one of the states under Malaya. The status of Sabah and Sarawak under the Federal Constitution should not be similar to the states in the peninsula, as we are partners in the formation of Malaysia,” he added.
Ugak also mentioned that his father, Penghulu Kumbong, was one of the 51 Iban community leaders led by Tun Jugah Barieng who met with the Cobbold Commission on the formation of Malaysia in Kapit on March 19, 1962.
He cited his father as saying that the Iban penghulus all agreed to the formation of Malaysia because they were confident in the leadership and vision.
“Now, 56 years on, what they envisioned did not become a reality. The allocation to provide basic needs such as electricity and water did not match the needs of the people of Sabah and Sarawak.
“Apart from dilapidated schools in rural Sarawak, we could not even talk about 5G (Internet speed). We don’t even know what Internet speed we have in the interior and that is why we need that special development grant to close the gap between Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia,” he said.
Ugak called on Putrajaya to return Sarawak its rights over petroleum resources, territorial waters and the continental shelf. — DayakDaily