Gerawat: DAP, PSB give perverse interpretation of amendment to Article 16

Dato Gerawat Gala (file pic)

KUCHING, Nov 18: State Legislative Assembly (DUN) Deputy Speaker Datuk Gerawat Gala has challenged both Democratic Action Party (DAP) and Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) to find a real “Putri” type candidate to contest as a member of the DUN and see whether the courts will allow or disqualify such person from being elected to DUN.

“DAP and PSB have given a perverse interpretation to the amendment. The constitutional role of interpreting the Constitution is vested in the Courts.

“If DAP and PSB are convinced that their hypothetical case of “Putri” is qualified to stand for election to the DUN, DAP and PSB should find a real “Putri” type candidate and let us see whether the courts will allow or disqualify her from being elected to DUN. The test of the pudding is in the eating,” Gerawat said in a statement issued here today.


He pointed out that the illustration given by PSB as reported in a local daily recently using the fictitious example of Putri, whose mother is a West Malaysian born in Sarawak to West Malaysian parents does not fully capture the intent of the amendment.

“Putri will still not qualify as ADUN under the amendment because she is not ‘normally’ resident in Sarawak even after working in Sarawak for two years. She is a West Malaysian not normally resident in Sarawak as her residency is purely for purposes of employment,” said Gerawat.

Gerawat who is also a Mulu assemblyman stressed that a person is normally resident in Sarawak if he or she resides in Sarawak and has every intention to remain in Sarawak for an indefinite period and have no intention of moving or residing elsewhere regardless as to whether or not he/she is employed.

“On the contrary, without the amendment to Article 16, Putri would have easily qualified as ADUN by the mere fact that she is a resident in Sarawak for 2 years or even less,” he said.

Gerawat added that there has been a lot of public discourse, propagated by the DAP and PSB, on the recent amendments to the State Constitution regarding the qualification of membership of the Dewan Undangan Negeri (DUN).

“Both DAP and PSB put their own interpretation and spin on the amendments to support their frivolous allegations that the amendments has opened the door for non-Sarawakians to take part in the State elections and become a member of DUN,” he said.

Gerawat opined that both PSB and DAP opposed the amendment for reasons best known to themselves.

“Now they accused GPS of selling out Sarawak and opening the door and making it easier for non-Sarawakians to be elected to DUN. This is exactly the opposite of GPS objective and intention in coming up with the amendment. GPS will never go against its fundamental and core value of putting ‘Sarawak First’ and protecting Sarawak’s rights,” he said.

Gerawat asserted that GPS will not sacrifice or in any way give up our rights provided in MA63 and the State and Federal Constitution as alleged by DAP and PSB.

“Both DAP and PSB are now colluding to justify their opposition to the amendment by alleging that the amendment has opened the way for non-Sarawakians to contest and become a member of DUN.

He further clarified that the amendment to Article 16 of the State Constitution follows the mandatory provisions in the Eighth Schedule of the Federal Constitution which a State Constitution must adopt.

“Any deviation from these mandatory provisions would make the deviant provisions unconstitutional, null and void. Thus, Article 16 cannot be amended to make it different from Clause 5 of the Eighth Schedule of the Federal Constitution where the term “resident in the State” is a requirement for election as a State assemblyman,” he said.

Gerawat said Article 16 of the State Constitution one of the qualifying requirements for membership of the DUN is that the person must be a citizen who is a “resident in the State”.

“This term “resident in the State” is not defined in the State and Federal Constitution.

“Since the Dewan can determine its own members it has the power to define what the expression “resident in the State” means,” he said.

He also explained that the term “resident in the State” in Article 16 of the State Constitution if left unamended means any Malaysian (even though he is not born in Sarawak or who has no Sarawak connection) can stand for election to DUN so long as he is resident in the State.

“This can allow a West Malaysian having temporary residence in Sarawak to become a member of the DUN,” he said.

Gerawat said, with the amendment, GPS Government wanted to plug the “loop-hole” so as not to allow the provision to be exploited by persons who do not belong to and are not loyal to Sarawak and do not have the interest of Sarawakians at heart to seek election to our DUN.

“The amendment only recognizes two categories of persons who qualify as “resident in the State” and they are: citizens who are born in the State whose parents or either of them is born in Sarawak and he must be normally resident in Sarawak; citizens, though not born in Sarawak, his parents or either of them are born in Sarawak and he must be normally resident in Sarawak.

“Firstly, this applies to citizens who are (i) born in Sarawak; (ii) both or one of his/her parents are born in Sarawak; and (c) he must be normally resident in Sarawak.

“Secondly, this applies to citizens who are (i) not born in the Sarawak; (ii) both or one of his parents were/was born in Sarawak, and (ii) he must be normally resident in Sarawak.

“Under this second category, it is intended to cover the situation where a citizen is born outside Sarawak to parents either both or one of whom were/was born in Sarawak. This happens when such a child’s parents are working or studying or temporarily living outside Sarawak, such as in West Malaysia, United Kingdom, etc. for work or education. If such a child returned to live in Sarawak, can anyone in good conscience say that such a person should be barred from standing for election to the DUN? He has all the attributes of a “Sarawakian”,” he explained.

Gerawat said, under the second category, it does not include children born outside the State but adopted by a Sarawak born person.

“This is because the expression “parent” must be interpreted in alignment with a similar term in the Federal Constitution such as Article 14 (regarding citizenship). The Court of Appeal ruled in Pendaftar Besar Kelahiran dan Kematian Malaysia v Pang Wee See & Anor (2017) 7 CLJ 33 that the word ‘parent’ does not extend to adoptive parent but applies only to biological parents. An adopted child born outside Sarawak whose biological parents are not born in Sarawak does not come within this category,” he asserted. – DayakDaily