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KUCHING, Nov 11: Chong Chieng Jen (DAP-Kota Sentosa) and Violet Yong (DAP-Pending) have misinterpreted and twisted the intention of Sarawak government in tabling the Constitution of the State of Sarawak (Amendment) Ordinance 2020 Bill which aims to limit non-Sarawakians to be Sarawak lawmakers.
This is the view of Padungan assemblyman Wong King Wei, a former DAP leader who quit the party and is now an independent state assemblyman.
In his debate on Sarawak Budget 2021 at Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) today, Wong pointed out that the original Article 16 of Sarawak Constitution allows West Malaysians with permanent resident status of only two years to be elected as Sarawak lawmakers.
“The original Article 16 of Sarawak Constitution which is a very old piece of codification somehow already left it wide open for a person to be qualified to be elected as member for Sarawak State Assembly as long as he is a Malaysia citizen who is a resident in Sarawak,” said Wong.
Such being the case, Wong fully agreed that Article 16 of the Sarawak Constitution should be amended to “tighten this issue and to ensure the exclusivity of membership of DUN Sarawak for Sarawakians only”.
To Wong, this could be done by defining “resident” to mean only those who are born in Sarawak and with Sarawak ancestry.
“At this juncture, I have to stress that I disagree with the definition of the ‘resident in the state’ in Article 16 of Sarawak Constitution to be tied up with Section 71 of the Immigration Act 1959/63 because Section 71 was meant for Section 66 of the Immigration Act 1959/63 which is regulating the entry of a person into Sarawak and it is not a proper definition to regulate the qualification of a member of DUN Sarawak.
“I propose that we can cut out Section 17 of the Immigration Act and adopt a narrower definition of ‘resident’ to mean those people who are born in Sarawak and with Sarawak ancestry,” said Wong.
Such being the case, Wong said Chong and Yong portrayed it otherwise, accusing the Sarawak government of tabling the bill with the intention to “sell out” Sarawak’s rights or to “open up” or “make it clearer and easier” for non-Sarawakians to be elected as Sarawak lawmakers.
“From my interpretation, the proposed amendment tabled by the State government yesterday is in no way trying to sell out the rights of Sarawak or to open up the qualification (of ADUN) to all. But in fact, it is a good effort to trying to make clearer the meaning of resident of the state with the intention to narrow down, not to open up, the ambit and the scope of person to be qualified as a member of the DUN Sarawak.
“Kota Sentosa and Pending have misinterpreted and twisted the purpose of the proposed amendment when it is to narrow to only Sarawak who can be elected representatives or ADUNs,” said Wong.
He concluded that the accusations of Chong and Yong that GPS is selling out Sarawakians’ rights is “not correct, untruthful and entirely misleading”.
Yesterday, Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah (PBB-Asajaya) tabled an amendment bill to allow only Sarawakians to be elected as state representatives and to lower the minimum age of representation in the august House from 18 to 21.
The amendment of the Constitution of the State of Sarawak (Amendment) Bill 2020 focussed mainly on Article 16 of the Constitution of the State of Sarawak.
There was no issue with regards to lowering the minimum age of representation from 21 to 18, however, Chong strongly objected to the proposed amendment on the grounds that such amendment will allow any West Malaysian or Sabahan to be elected as a member of the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN).
Chong alleged that the proposed amendment is literally opening up the DUN to West Malaysians to be members thereof is an outright betrayal of Sarawakians’ rights.
Meanwhile, Yong in her social media page said, “I am extremely happy. During this morning DUN sitting, both DAP and PSB (Parti Sarawak Bersatu) had successfully blocked the Sarawak GPS government in passing the amendment of the Sarawak State Constitution in allowing West Malaysian and Sabahan to be elected into Sarawak State Legislative Council. The said Bill was deferred by the Speaker.”
Due to the importance of the Bill and some anomalies, DUN Speaker Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar deferred the Bill. – DayakDaily