Equal status Bill failed because Putrajaya went about it the wrong way — Masing

Tan Sri James Jemut Masing

By Peter Sibon

KUCHING, April 10: The Bill to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution did not get the necessary two-thirds majority support in Parliament last night because the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government had approached the matter the wrong way, opined Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing.

He said the Bill was pushed from top to bottom in a hurried manner.

“It should have been from the bottom and up with all details being thrashed out by a Select Committee as suggested by Santubong MP Dato Sri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, after which the Federal Constitution amendment will be tabled.

“In that manner, it will be a holistic approach,” Masing said here today.

He also asserted that both Sarawak and Sabah seemed to no longer trust the PH federal government, with its many U-turns policies.

“Sarawak and Sabah no longer trust Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Putrajaya in keeping their promises. The many U-turns his government did to Sarawak and Sabah in less than a year in power are examples of Putrajaya’s lack of sincerity in administrating this nation.

“Thus, it’s only right that Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), Umno and some Sabah MPs abstained from supporting the Bill,” he reckoned.

On a related issue, Masing, who is also Minister of Infrastructure Development and Transportation, insisted that the best way to settle the lost rights of Sarawak and Sabah was to revoke the Federal Constitution that was amended in 1976 as it had reduced the status of both regions into mere states in the federation.

“It would be so much easier if Parliament just amends the 1976 article in the Federal Constitution, which reduced Sarawak and Sabah as two of the 13 states.

“They should have put Sarawak and Sabah back as regions as was agreed in MA63 (Malaysia Agreement 1963). In this way, equal partners with Malaya is maintained with no hassles. In this way, all agreement as in MA63 remains intact. This must be pursued by Putrajaya with no changes,” he emphasised.

Masing asserted that Sarawak was never one of the 13 states when MA63 was signed.

“We are the biggest contributor to the national revenue. Why should we share with Malaya after they ‘stole’ our wealth to develop Malaya and left us behind? We want to be on par in infrastructure development before we share our wealth with Malayan states.”

Masing said the MA63 was the basis for the formation of Malaysia. Hence, any review from the original agreement required further renegotiation between Malaya, Sarawak and Sabah. The agreement must be reached before a political ‘marriage’ could be consummated.

“Thus, Sarawak has lost the element of trust with Putrajaya after being cheated for 55 years. Putrajaya lacks sincerity in tabling the amendment Bill.

“As I said before, you fool me once, shame on you. You fool me twice, shame on me. Likewise, Sarawak must not be fooled twice by a sly Putrajaya,” added Masing.

Masing, who is also Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president, also took a swipe at Sarawak PH leaders for merely parroting their political masters in Putrajaya. — DayakDaily