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By Nancy Nais and Karen Bong
KUALA LUMPUR, April 10: The rejection of the bill to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution last night has prompted Sarawak Pakatan Harapan (PH) chief Chong Chieng Jen to come to one conclusion — Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) had put its interests over and above the interests of Sarawak.
“I think the people of Sarawak can see clearly that GPS is putting their political interests and mileage over and above the interests of Sarawak, in general. That is the only conclusion I have made,” said Chong to the media after Parliament sitting adjourned for the day yesterday.
He described yesterday as “a sad day” for GPS, which had defeated a bill that was meant to restore the status of Sarawak and Sabah to their original positions as when Malaysia was formed in 1963.
Chong, who is also Sarawak Democratic Action Party (DAP) chief and Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, said the wording of the amendment was exactly the same as in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
“What we are doing today (April 9), the Bill is proposed by Tun M (Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad) is to restore the status of Sarawak and Sabah back to the 1963 position. It is regretted that GPS rejected this amendment.”
He said GPS had always claimed to be fighting for what was enshrined in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), no more and no less.
“However, when we tabled this amendment in the exact wording of the MA63 agreement in Parliament, the excuse is ‘No, we are supporting it with conditions’. These are excuses. In the end, when it came to voting, they did not even vote for it.”
Chong said in any voting for a constitutional amendment, it was not objections that matter but the number of votes supporting it.
“You can have zero opposition, but if the number of “for” does not reach two-thirds, that means the bill will be rejected. And abstention of voting is as good as voting ‘no’.
“It will go down in history that GPS is the culprit tonight that Sarawak and Sabah cannot restore their 1963 position when we formed Malaysia.”
On GPS’ request to refer the Bill to a Parliament Select Committee, Chong said what Dr Mahathir had offered in his winding-up speech even exceeded GPS’ request.
He said GPS only requested for the Bill to be referred to the Select Committee, while Dr Mahathir offered to refer the implementation of the MA63 to the committee.
“Tun M had even agreed that we will form a Parliament Select Committee to look into the implementation of MA63 constitution and that is even indicated in the winding-up (speech).
“That is in a way exceeding their (GPS) request. The Parliament Select Committee’s scope or terms of reference is even wider in accordance to what Tun M said. You know, to look into all aspects for the implementation of MA63.”
Despite so, he said GPS turned down the bill.
“The only explanation is that their ego and pride is too big that they cannot accept anything from the other side. It has to be from them, otherwise, no.” — DayakDaily