Equal status: GPS will support amendment bill on two conditions

Abang Johari (seated second left) speaking to reporters at the press conference. Also seen are (seated from left) Tiong, Masing and Dr Sim.

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By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Feb 6: GPS lawmakers will support the new bill to restore equal status for Sabah and Sarawak provided that the words “pursuant to the Malaysia Agreement 1963” are included as well as an amendment to Article 160(2).

Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) chairman Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg today reiterated that this is Sarawak’s stand on the new bill which is expected to be tabled in Parliament in coming March.

“We insist that it must include ‘pursuant to MA63’ and Article 160 (2) must be amended to refer to MA63, not the Malaya Agreement 1957.

“Article 1(2) must be pursuant to MA63, then the whole constitution is based on the Malaysia Agreement. In addition, the interpretation under Article 160(2) must also refer to MA63 not the Malaya Agreement,” he told a press conference after chairing the GPS Supreme Council Meeting at Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) headquarters here today.

The Chief Minister also revealed that discussions are ongoing between the Sarawak Attorney-General (AG), Sabah AG and the Federal AG on the text of the draft bill.

When asked on the assurance given to de facto Law Minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong over the amendment, Abang Johari reemphasised that GPS lawmakers will support the amendment provided that the two conditions mentioned were met.

“It was discussed in the last meeting and recorded in the minutes.

“We maintain our stand on this. As long as they include that, we support. The key is MA63. (Because) whatever cases that we have before the court, it involves the Constitution then it has to follow what is agreed in the Constitution as well as in MA63.

“Moreover, under Article 8 of MA63, anything that was not discussed must be reincorporated. That is very important or else it is missing,” he elaborated.

The aim, he continued, was to improve the ‘defects’ in Article 1(2) or else the Constitution would be very vague if it did not refer to MA63.

“In the court, they only interpret what is written in the Constitution. Currently, the Constitution is based on the Malaya Agreement 1957 and we were not part of the agreement.

“If to be included in the Constitution, whatever case that we have, it must also include whatever that has been agreed by Cobbold Commission as well as IGC (Inter-Governmental Committee) and the MA in the Constitution,” he said.

Abang Johari, who is also PBB president, added that the interpretation in the Constitution must be clear, otherwise the court would go back to the interpretation based on the Constitution in 1957.

“We have a lot of provisions in the Constitution that were also based on what have been agreed in MA63 and IGC just like the case between (the state and) Petronas,” he added.

On the development of politics in the country, he said GPS viewed that the problems in Peninsula Malaysia were not connected to Sarawak.

“Whatever problems faced that side is their problem, not Sarawak’s problem though Sarawak will definitely monitor what’s going on in Peninsular Malaysia unless it affects Sarawak’s interests. We will see and observe.

“We must have a very strong and stable government to run Malaysia. We are on our own, we are GPS and we look after Sarawak’s interests,” he pointed out.

Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) president Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian, Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing, Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) president Datuk Tiong King Sing as well as other Supreme Council members were present. — DayakDaily