Constitution clearly outlines only Sarawakians can contest in the state elections, asserts Abang Jo

Abang Johari (second right) having a light moment with Unimas vice chancellor Prof Dato Dr Mohamad Kadim Suaidi (right) as well as other senior ministers and assistant ministers after trying on the virtual reality headset.

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By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Feb 19: Only Sarawakians can contest in the Sarawak state election, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg emphasised.

He was commenting on the statement by Muara Tuang assemblyman Datuk Idris Buang who had yesterday (Feb 18) proposed that a bill be tabled to make amendments to Article 16 of the Sarawak State Constitution (SSC) to ensure only Sarawakians may assume representation in the Sarawak State Assembly (DUN).

Abang Johari pointed out that there was no necessity to amend the Constitution which provides clearly that only Sarawakians can contest in the Sarawak state election.

“People from Peninsular Malaysia cannot stand in the state election. Our Constitution is very clear about this in that it must be Sarawakians.

“I don’t think there is a need to amend the Constitution. I am not sure what Idris wanted, maybe he was indicating for parliament,” he told reporters after launching the Sarawak Travel App and Web Portal today.

At the parliamentary level, Abang Johari said that residents of Melaka could stand in Penang while Penangites could stand in Pahang.

“But our Constitution is very clear that only Sarawakians can contest in Sarawak state elections,” he reiterated.

Meanwhile, Idris urged leaders in Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) state government to consider tabling the necessary amendments Bill in the next DUN sitting, claiming that the present Article 16 of the SSC was obsolete and irrelevant to the present trend in Sarawak.

Article 16 of the SSC states that “Every citizen of or over the age of 21 years who is resident in the State is qualified to be elected as an elected member of the Dewan Undangan Negeri, unless he is disqualified for being such as member by the Federal Constitution or this Constitution or by any such law as mentioned in Article 17”.

Idris, who is a lawyer by training, asserted that there were various meanings to the word ‘resident’ and that the definition of the word in the present SSC Article 16 was “quite loose”.

He explained that the amendment was to prevent any non-Sarawakians to stand in the state election as well as to protect Sarawak from nasty political culture and distasteful politicking which seemed to have affected Malaya-based parties in the peninsular.

This suggestion came in light of former Pujut assemblyman Dr Ting Tiong Choon losing his representation in DUN due to dual citizenship which led to perceptions that non-Sarawakians may contest to stand as assemblyman in Sarawak DUN.—DayakDaily