Liew says no issue to reword Bill; critics urged to give Explanatory Statement due attention

Liew holding a document while explaining the changes of the states of the Federation of Malaysia from 1963, 1976 to the present proposal.

By Karen Bong and Nancy Nais

KUALA LUMPUR, April 8: The Pakatan Harapan (PH) government has no issue with improving the wording in the proposed amendment to Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution to its original form as accorded in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

De facto Law Minister Liew Vui Keong revealed that this amendment would be tabled in the second reading in Parliament tomorrow (April 9).

“I have listened to a lot of views on the ground since the Bill was introduced on (April 4),” he said when met at his office in Parliament today.

Malaysia, he pointed out, was made out of three entities — Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak — and so he hoped the people could see why the PH government wanted to bring back Sabah and Sarawak to their original position in 1963.

“This is to go back to the intention and spirit of MA63,” he added.

When a Bill is being proposed, Liew explained that it would require Cabinet approval.

“But before going to the Cabinet, the memorandum will have to be submitted to all stakeholders, including the governments of Sabah and Sarawak, in which they will come back with their views.

“During the Cabinet meeting, I will have to table the proposed Bill and read out all the views and feedback from all stakeholders as the Prime Minister must be informed,” he added.

However, he assumed that all stakeholders agreed on the present clause in the proposed Bill as none of the views touched on the clause.

“But regardless, there have been several requests over the last few days when I met up with all the MPs to improve the words back to the 1963 position,” he revealed.

“I have met with the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General (AG) and we have no issue with that,” he said.

But Liew added that attention should also be given to the Explanatory Statement that was part of the Constitution.

The statement reads: “… Amendment is made in line with the Malaysia Agreement concluded in 1963. It satisfies the aspirations of the states of Sabah and Sarawak and all the people of Sabah and Sarawak.

“This will be recorded in the Constitution when the Article is amended,” he reminded.

On whether Sabah and Sarawak Chief Ministers had been informed on this, Liew said he had contacted and communicated over the phone with them.

“Sabah Chief Minister (Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal) has no issue so long as it is reverted back to 1963, but Sarawak Chief Minister (Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg) has some reservations.

“That’s why I need to meet up with Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) chief whip (Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof) and their representatives (to further discuss this),” he added.

Liew (right) in discussion with Sarawak and Sabah MPs in his office in Parliament this afternoon (April 8, 2019) over the proposed amendment to Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution. Seated anti-clockwise from Liew: Kapit MP Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi, Kimanis MP Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) whip and Petra Jaya MP Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof, Keningau MP Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan and Batang Sadong MP Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri. (photo credit: Misiah Taib)

Liew emphasised that all MPs would have the opportunity to speak up in Parliament tomorrow when the Bill is being tabled for the second reading.

“They can bring the voices from their constituents and raised them in the Parliament. I also urge all people in Sabah and Sarawak and, in fact, the whole of Malaysia to give their views to their representatives so the Bill can be discussed and debated tomorrow,” he concluded. — DayakDaily