By Nigel Edgar
KUCHING, March 10: The proposed amendment to Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution to restore the status of both Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners with Peninsular Malaysia will be tabled in Parliament tomorrow (March 11).
Sarawak Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman Chong Chieng Jen, who said this today, added that it would take about three weeks for the second reading.
He said a two-thirds majority or aye from 148 of the 222 MPs were needed for the amendment to pass. PH currently has 135 MPs, but Chong is confident all PH MPs would vote for the amendment.
“But even with such risk, the PH government is willing to kickstart the effort to regain Sarawak’s and Sabah’s status as equal partners with Peninsular Malaysia,” said Chong at a press conference at the state Democratic Action Party (DAP) headquarters here this afternoon.
He also clarified that Law Minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong had made it clear that the amendment would be without any hidden conditions.
On a related matter, Chong highlighted that it was only when PH took over the federal government that the Special Cabinet Steering Committee on the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) was formed in October to look into restoring the rights of Sarawak and Sabah.
And within a few months, the PH government had agreed to consider amending Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution to restore the status of both Borneon states as equal partners with Peninsular Malaysia.
He said said whatever Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) leaders accused or criticised PH regarding the proposed amendment of the said article, it was its own doing in the first place when both Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) and Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP), during the Barisan Nasional (BN) era, approved the last amendment to the said article in 1976 that turned Sarawak into one of the 13 states in Malaysia.
“It was BN that tabled and approved the 1976 Constitution Amendment reducing Sarawak’s status to ‘one of the 13 states’ in Malaysia. The 1976 Constitution Amendment was supported by PBB and SUPP.
“Though PBB and SUPP have left BN and now call themselves GPS, history will still record that they have supported it (reducing Sarawak’s status).
“It is now the PH government who restores the rightful position of Sarawak’s equal partner status.”
Chong, who is also Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, said despite years of objection on the diminished status of Sarawak, the then BN government did nothing.
He said PBB and SUPP just played along with former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who promised the sky but delivered nothing on Sarawak’s equal partner status.
Chong said the proposed amendment to restore Sarawak’s status as one of the three territories in Malaysia was the most important and fundamental step towards restoring the equal partners status of Sarawak to the then Federation of Malaya and Sabah.
“That was how Malaysia was formed and that is how it should be. It is only when all Malaysians take recognition of the ‘one of the three territories’ notion that talks of autonomy and equal partners concept of Sarawak vis-à-vis Federation of Malaya will be a normal course of events and produce concrete results.
“The cabinet’s decision to start with the amendment of Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution to restore Sarawak’s ‘one of the three territories’ status shows the sincerity of the PH government to accord Sarawak and Sabah their rightful positions in Malaysia.” — DayakDaily