Equal status: 200 protest against proposed amendment

Participants bearing flags of the Kingdom of Sarawak which was the first flag of Sarawak after achieving self-government on July 22, 1963.

by Karen Bong

KUCHING, April 7: Over 200 people turned up at the flash mob initiated by Sarawak for Sarawakians (S4S) held at Padang Merdeka this morning to protest against the proposed Bill to amend Article 1 (2) of the Federal Constitution.

S4S spokesperson Tan Kok Chiang emphasised that the objective of this gathering was to send a strong message that Sarawakians will never settle for anything less than Sarawak being recognised as an equal partner with Peninsular Malaysia (Malaya) and Sabah within the Federation of Malaysia.

“The (amendment) Bill, like I said before, is insufficient to meet the demand of the people of Sarawak. It is unfair and fails to respect the rights of Sarawak and its people,” he told DayakDaily.

“We would support the amendment of Article 1 (2) if only the terms provided follow what had been laid down in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) for Sarawak. All wordings should be the same with that of MA63,” he said.

Ng (second right) joining others to hold placards demanding the federal government recognise Sarawak as an equal partner and not one of 13 territories in the Federation of Malaysia.

The proposed Bill, which was tabled for first reading in Parliament on April 4, only saw minimal amendment involving removal of Sarawak and Sabah from the list of Malaysian states and placed under a different grouping.

Tan reiterated that the Bill lacked substance no matter how it was worded or which equations were used because it provided no change in the status of Sarawak as one of the founding nations of the Federation of Malaysia.

“First the content of the Bill was only made known at the last hour so it is only right that lawmakers from Sarawak don’t just ‘blindly sign’ (support) it,” he said.

Banners calling for a referendum are seen placed on the ground during the gathering to protest the amendment Bill.
Peter (right) and Soo (second right) were among the participants at the flash mob at Padang Merdeka.

“You (the federal government) talk about democracy but how does this (their actions) reflect that values?” he questioned.

If the federal government continues to ignore Sabah and Sarawak as the founding nations of the Federation of Malaysia, Tan reiterated that it was better for Sarawak to consider to be on its own.

“This is our new tagline: ‘no more negotiation, we want to be free, we want to leave – Sarexit’,” he said while urging for a referendum so that the people can decide on the future of Sarawak.

State Reform Party (Star) president Lina Soo, Sarawak Association for Peoples’ Aspiration (SAPA) president Dominique Ng and Solidariti Anak Sarawak founder Peter John Jaban were among those participating in the event. — DayakDaily