Chong to Abang Johari: Don’t blame the innocent secretariat

Chong Chieng Jen

KUCHING, April 13: State Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman Chong Chieng Jen today criticised Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg for blaming the secretariat (of the ministry in charge of law) as the cause for Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) MPs to abstain from voting for the Federal Constitution Amendment Bill on Tuesday (April 9).

Chong said the proposed amendment was worded exactly as it was prior to the 1976 amendment, as per demand by GPS.

“But when it comes to crunch time, they abstained. If there is something wrong with the bill, why are they not voting against it?

“Abstaining is the most irresponsible thing to do, especially when one is dealing with voting in Parliament. The minister’s (of Law) secretariat has done no wrong. The fault lies with the self-serving political interest and the big egos of GPS,” he said in a statement today.

Chong, who is also Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, reiterated that the bill tabled by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on April 9, 2019, was as follows:

“1(2) The States of the Federation shall be
​(a)​ the States of Malaya, namely Johore, Kedah, Kelantan, Malacca, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Perak, Perlis, Selangor and Terengganu; and
​(b)​ the Borneo States, namely, Sabah and Sarawak.”

Chong stressed that these were the exact words of the Constitution before it was amended in 1976 that downgraded Sarawak and Sabah to two of the 13 States in Malaysia.

“It was the exact words used in the 1963 Constitution when Malaysia was formed, no more, no less. Isn’t that what the GPS has always been demanding, ‘no more no less’?” Chong questioned.

He gave several reasons which he believed was why GPS abstained to vote for the bill.

“Firstly, had the bill been passed, GPS will immediately lose one of its election campaigning points. Not only will it lose its election campaigning point, but the passing of the bill will also tell Sarawakians that what GPS/BN Sarawak has failed for 43 years, the PH government has remedied it within one year of the changing of the federal government.

“That is political interest above Sarawak’s interest,” said Chong.

Secondly, he added, it had become a norm for GPS to never accept anything from the opposite side of the political divide, even if the latter’s proposals are good and beneficial to the people.

“There have been too many incidents in the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) when the opposition assemblymen tabled certain motions that are good and beneficial to the people of Sarawak, but knowing that it couldn’t reject such motions, GPS assemblymen would then copycat the motion, amended some words to the motion and then table it,” Chong said.

He said the speaker would then decide based on voting which of the two motions was to be debated.

With the GPS’s absolute majority in DUN, it goes without saying that the GPS assemblymen’s motion would always be debated and accepted, while the opposition’s motion would be rejected, said Chong.

“This is very immature political child-play by GPS. They have the numbers in DUN and the speaker. Thus, they got their way all the time in DUN Sarawak,” Chong said.

He said when the bill tabled by the PH government was word-for-word the same as the 1963 version of the Federal Constitution, GPS tried to add in additional terms as a condition for supporting the Bill.

This, Chong said, was done so that GPS could repeat what was done in DUN Sarawak, ie: claiming credit for the amendment.

“Sad for GPS, they should have known better. Parliament and national politics is no place for such child play.

“Along with it, GPS squandered the golden opportunity for Sarawak to regain its original status in MA63 in Malaysia. Now, because of the doing of the GPS MPs in abstaining from voting, Sarawak remains one of the 13 states in Malaysia.

“Not only has GPS shot their own legs by not voting for the bill, but they have also shot the legs of Sarawakians and also Sabahans,” Chong added. — DayakDaily