Chong hopes GPS MPs will rethink their position and support amendment Bill  

Chong Chieng Jen

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KUCHING, April 5: The structure of Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution in the proposed amendment is exactly the same as that of the 1963 Article 1(2), except that the phrase “the States of Malaya” and “the Borneo States” were no longer in use.

Democratic Action Party (DAP) Sarawak chairman Chong Chieng Jen highlighted this in a press statement today to clarify that the amendment bill tabled by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government yesterday was the first step towards restoring Sarawak’s position and legal status to that at the time of the formation of Malaysia.

He revealed that the wordings of Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution in 1963 were as follows:

“The States of the Federation shall be –

(a) The States of Malaya, namely, Johore, Kedah, Kelantan, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Pahang, Penang, Perak, Perlis, Selangor and Terengganu; and

(b) The Borneo States, namely, Sabah and Sarawak; and

(c) the State of Singapore.”

In 1976, the Barisan National government amended Article 1(2) to the following:

“The State of the Federation shall be Johore, Kedah, Kelantan, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Pahang, Penang, Perak, Perlis, Sabah, Sarawak, Selangor and Terengganu.”

On April 4, 2019, the amendment tabled by PH Government was worded as follows:

“The States of the Federation shall be –

(a) Johore, Kedah, Kelantan, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Pahang, Penang, Perak, Perlis, Selangor and Terengganu; and

(b) Sabah and Sarawak.”

“All this while, we, Sarawakians, demanded for the restoration of Sarawak’s rightful place in the Malaysia Day (1963) Constitution. This is exactly what the PH Government intends to do with the amendment,” he explained.

Chong, who is also Deputy Minister for Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, noted that Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) had always reiterated the claim that it only wanted what was due to Sarawak when Sarawak joined to form Malaysia, ‘no more and no less’.

“Therefore, it is most regrettable that the GPS members of Parliament (MPs) have resorted to the walkout protest with Umno when the amendment Bill to restore Sarawak’s position was tabled in Parliament for first reading yesterday,” he criticised.

“Is the GPS too embarrassed to accept the fact that it was the BN who took away Sarawak’s rightful status in 1976 (GPS was part of BN then) and now it is the PH government who restores the rightful status of Sarawak?”

To make matter worse, he pointed out that the GPS’ protest was led by Umno.

“Has GPS forgotten that it was Umno who has initiated the 1976 amendment and, thereafter, the gradual erosion of Sarawak’s rights all these years? Why is GPS still taking its cue from Umno despite having officially quitted BN?” he asked further.

Chong reiterated that this amendment was to set the legal framework right by putting Sabah and Sarawak as a separate category from the other 11 states in West Malaysia.

“It is also in line with the original structure in the Federal Constitution. It puts Sabah and Sarawak in the correct platform as envisaged by our forefathers when Malaysia was formed,” he said.

The amendment, he emphasised, was only a starting point to the continuous process of devolution of powers and reinstating Sabah and Sarawak’s equal standing as the 11 states in Peninsular Malaysia.

“It doesn’t stop there. The MA63 Steering Committee and Technical Committee will still continue with the meetings and discussions on the devolution of powers.

“Surely, from Sarawak’s perspective, the present amendment is an improvement to the 1976 version of Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution. As such, if GPS sincerely has the interest of Sarawak in mind, there is no reason to oppose,” he said.

Chong opined that the only reason for GPS to oppose the Bill was that the passing of the Bill would be a testament of the failure on the part of the previous BN government (which GPS was a party).

“For all the injustice that BN has done to Sarawak and Sabah, the PH government has taken steps to remedy it within one year of taking over the federal government,” he added.

He, thus, urged the GPS MPs to rethink their position, put aside their ego and pride and support the amendment Bill.

“Afterall, their parties had betrayed Sarawak once in 1976 by supporting the 1976 amendment put up by Umno. After 43 years, are they going to stand together with Umno again to betray Sarawak a second time in Parliament?” he asked. — DayakDaily