Chong: Amendment Bill deferment victory for Sarawakians

Chong (seated left) with other opposition members at a press conference in DUN media room.

by Nancy Nais

KUCHING, Nov 10: The deferment of the Constitution of the State of Sarawak (Amendment) Ordinance 2020 Bill by the Sarawak Legislative Assembly today is a victory for the people of Sarawak, says DAP Sarawak chairman Chong Chieng Jen.

The opposition, Chong said, strongly objected to the proposed amendment on the grounds that such amendment will allow any West Malaysian or Sabahan to be elected as a member of the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN).

However, he also cautioned that the deferment of the Bill today only means a temporary victory for the people of Sarawak in defending the sanctity of the DUN as Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) will re-table the same for approval at the next DUN sitting.

Two amendments were proposed to Article 16 of the Constitution of the State of Sarawak which addresses the qualification of members of DUN.

“The first amendment, tabled by the GPS government will lower the qualifying age from the present 21-years-old to 18-years-old. We have no objection to that.

“The second amendment will allow a West Malaysian to be elected as a member of the Sarawak DUN so long as he has two years of permanent resident status. In short, with this amendment, any West Malaysian or Sabahan, so long as he is a Sarawak permanent resident for two years, he shall be eligible to be elected as a member of the Sarawak State Assembly,” Chong said, adding that this is a total sell out of Sarawakians’ rights.

Referring to DUN as the last bastion of the rights and privileges of Sarawak and Sarawakians as it is the highest legislative body in Sarawak where state laws and policies are formulated, Chong insisted that the exclusivity of its membership to Sarawakians only must be maintained.

Chong asserted that the GPS government by proposing this amendment is literally opening up the DUN to West Malaysians to be members thereof which is an outright betrayal of Sarawakians’ rights.

“Over the past 57 years, there has been consistent and gradual surrendering of state rights to the federal government. Nothing is more serious than this present amendment of the Constitution of the State of Sarawak.

“This is the culmination of the past 57 years of erosion of state’s rights, allowing non-Sarawakians to be a member of the highest legislative body of the state,” Chong said.

Earlier, Speaker Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar announced the deferment of the proposed amendment to the Bill after listening to both sides of the bench during this morning’s sitting.

He said there is an anomaly in the drafting of the Bill of which different issues will have to be addressed and clarified, and therefore deferred it to a later date to be fixed. — DayakDaily