By Karen Bong & Peter Sibon
KUCHING, March 9: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said he would advise Sarawak MPs to vote for the bill to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution when it is tabled at the coming Parliament session.
“Of course, of course (will advise Sarawak MPs to vote for the bill),” he told reporters this morning.
The amendment to the Federal Constitution will need a two-thirds majority to be passed.
The Pakatan Harapan (PH) government currently has 135 MPs, including nine from Warisan and one from Upko. To have two-thirds majority support, it needs 148 MPs.
But Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) has 18 MPs, which is more than enough to make up the number needed. GPS used to have 19 MPs, but Sri Aman MP Datuk Masir Kujat jumped to Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) — a non-GPS party — two days ago.
Abang Johari was met at the launching and presentation of grants at the Women Entrepreneurs and Empowered Women Forum held in conjunction with the state-level International Women’s Day at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) here today.
When asked about matters that the Steering Committee to Review Malaysia Agreement (MA63) could not resolve yet, he said the Stamp Act was one of them.
“There are other issues but wait first as we are still discussing. I mention the Stamp Act because (Prime Minister Tun Dr) Mahathir (Mohamad) had also mentioned about it,” he added.
When contacted, Santubong MP Dato Sri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar reiterated that he fully supported Abang Johari as president of PBB.
“DP Abang Johari is my party president, and I have no reason to decide and say otherwise. It’s the party’s culture and practice.
“What is more, DP Abg Jo is also the chairman of the GPS. All strata and levels of leadership of GPS must support him,” he said.
Wan Junaidi said the amendment of Article 1(2) is to restore Sarawak’s status as a region rather than just a state in Malaysia. The same goes for Sabah.
“All right-thinking Sarawakians ought to support. Being an MP from Sarawak, we ought to support, and for PBB, the president has already spoken — members must give support,” he said.
Wan Junaidi, who is a former Minister of National Resources and Environment, also hoped that the issue would be looked at beyond that.
“This is because giving the status alone has no economic, social and other development benefits to Sarawak. Yet, Sarawak is a huge and rich region. At a certain period of time through Malaysia’s history since 1963, almost 50 per cent of Malaysia’s annual budgets were from Sarawak petroleum revenue.
“Accordingly, there must be a special position given to the official representative of the Sarawak government, example, Deputy Prime Minister or Minister of Finance or the bare minimum as Minister of Economic Planning Unit, irrespective of political party affiliation with the federal government,” said Wan Junaidi.
He said Sarawak as a region could not be seen, considered and treated as just an ordinary state in the peninsula in terms of annual development and administration budget.
“Such budget must commensurate with the position as a region and resource contributions to the national financial well-being and welfare. All round analysis must be made on Sarawak’s overall security and social well-being.
“Provisions must be made. Senior positions in the federal ministry and departments must commensurate with that regional status. Certainly not just an exercise of amending Article 1(2) without anything more. Surely, there must be something more that comes with the amendment,” added Wan Junaidi.— DayakDaily