CM: Mishandling by ministry’s secretariat caused equal status bill to fail

By Nigel Edgar

KUCHING, April 12: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said there could be some mishandling on the part of the secretariat of the ministry in charge of law in wording the recent Bill to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution.

He said these missteps had caused all Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) MPs to abstain from voting for the bill on Tuesday (April 9).

Abang Johari said, nonetheless, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, during the last Malaysia Agreement 1963 Steering Committee meeting, had expressed his sincerity in ensuring that the rights of Sarawak and Sabah as per the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) would be restored.

Abang Johari closing the Certified Integrity Officer (CeIO) Programme.

“I tell you, through the (steering committee) meeting, PM was very sincere. He is sincere to bring about change to restore (Sarawak’s and Sabah’s rights), but I think there is a weakness by the secretariat in handling it.

“I think if there had been good handling on the part of the secretariat and us, then you have a very strong sort of platform … understanding. Then it can be that the wording can be better.

“But one thing for sure, PM is serious. He is sincere,” Abang Johari told reporters after closing the Certified Integrity Officer (CeIO) Programme at the old State Legislative Assembly (DUN) Complex here this afternoon.

Abang Johari reiterated that he had told de facto Law Minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong that the amendment must be in the spirit of the MA63 and should be expressed clearly in the amendment.

“I think if there had been a face-to-face discussion, I don’t think there would be a problem.

“Of course, we want to support. We support in principle (the proposed amendment). That’s why I said, initially it was okay, but when the thing was not done as what we had expected … because my submission was within the parameters of the Federal Constitution and MA63.

“So, MA63 must be there,” he re-emphasised.

Asked if he would be bringing this up in the next Steering Committee meeting, Abang Jo replied, “We’ll see lah. Actually, it’s not that. Just mishandling bah.” — DayakDaily