Equal status: SUPP Youth questions PH’s sincerity

Milton Foo

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by Karen Bong

KUCHING, April 11: Sarawak United People’ Party (SUPP) Youth Central secretary Milton Foo opined that the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government lacked sincerity in restoring the equal partners status to Sarawak following the defeat of the constitutional amendment bill in Parliament on Tuesday.

“PH government must show sincerity in making this amendment to the Federal Constitution by acknowledging that Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak are three counterparts and such important amendment must be done in proper manner with mutual respect and sincerity,” he told a press conference at SUPP headquarters today.

Foo thus questioned why was it so difficult to include ‘pursuant to Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63)’ as proposed by Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) lawmakers to Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution.

“PH had promised to restore the equal partnership status of Sarawak and Sabah but yet they refused to take up the proposal to have the amendment as proposed by GPS lawmakers,” he said.

“During the second reading of the bill, they also refused to debate on the inclusion of MA63 to the Federal Constitution, including Article 160(2) on the definition ‘the Federation’ which referred only to Malaya Agreement 1957 which has no relevancy to Sarawak and Sabah,” he pointed out.

More importantly, he emphasised that a consensus should have been reached first in the Special Steering Cabinet Committee for MA63 which included representatives from both Sarawak and Sabah governments before the bill was tabled.

“The Bill would have been passed easily in Parliament if a consensus has been reached,” he said.

Responding to PH saying that ‘a journey of a thousand mile must begin with the first step’ which was to recognise the status of Sarawak and Sabah first, Foo reiterated that status and rights were inseparable matters.

“Whatever status accorded now, it will determine what rights the state will get as it is part and parcel of the recognition,” he said.

Using the analogy of the difference between an employer-employee relationship and that of a partnership (shareholders) to set up a company, he explained that each of these statuses in the structure of the company was different and this was similar to that of Sarawak in Malaysia.

“Are we talking about partnership or merely a servant (employee) to the employer. As such when speaking about the status, it must be rightly put and not done in a hasty manner,” he said.

On the restoration, he questioned to which part was the restoration done — to Federal Constitution 1963 or MA63 — because there was an important difference here.

He quoted MA63 which read: “The Colonies of North Borneo and Sarawak and the State of Singapore shall be federated with the existing states of the Federation of Malaya …. and the Federation shall after call Malaysia.”

“In MA63, there was no three parts in the clause. But under Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution, there are three parts in which Sabah and Sarawak are included in part (b) as Borneo States,” he said.

“If you look at MA63, it was clear that we are four entities namely Malaya, Sarawak, Sabah, and Singapore. But in Federal Constitution 1963, it becomes three parts namely (a) states in Malaya, (b) Borneo States of Sabah and Sarawak and (c) the state of Singapore,” he explained.

“So which part are we restoring? The Federal Constitution 1963 or MA63? That is why GPS lawmakers insist that MA63 be included in Article 1(2) to clear the confusion and show that we are of equal status,” he added. — DayakDaily