Lo: Study financial implication before agreeing to equal status bill

Lo Khere Chiang

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By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Jan 17: Batu Kitang assemblyman Lo Khere Chiang has cautioned the “financial implications” when a new Bill is tabled in Parliament this March to restore Sabah and Sarawak status as equal partners to Peninsular Malaysia.

He pointed out that the fine print of the proposed amendment to Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution, which was defeated at the Dewan Rakyat in April last year, stated that “this bill will involve the government in extra financial expenditure the amount of which cannot at present, be ascertained”.

“I wish to raise a word of caution here as the federal government has claimed that Malaysia is owing RM1 trillion.

“Referring to the ‘financial implications’ stated and with equal status, does it mean that Sarawak will be responsible for 50 per cent of the RM1 trillion (debt)?” he told a press conference at Padawan Municipal Council (MPP) headquarters here today.

He said it was ridiculous having to pay the debts, which Peninsular Malaysia incurred, while Sarawak has been contributing RM92 million to the national coffers every year.

“Moreover, how can we sign anything that ‘cannot be ascertained’ when money is concerned?

“Sarawak has to be cautious when dealing and pursuing Sarawak’s rights as we cannot afford to make any mistake, a lesson we have learned from last 55 years.”

Lo, who is MPP chairman, urged Sarawakians to be cautious as Sarawak continues to pursue the rights of the state and constitutional amendment.

“We must lend our support and trust in our present leaders who are negotiating for our rights as enshrined under MA63 (Malaysia Agreement 1963).

“Let us all be united as one under GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak) in our quest to pursue our rights under MA63,” he urged.

He also echoed Batang Sadong MP Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri ,who stated that GPS MPs will abstain from voting on the amendment to Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution in the Dewan Rakyat this March if the federal government does not change the wordings.

Nancy said: “If they re-table the same thing then what’s the point? It has no substance. We will still abstain.”

Last April, the Pakatan government failed to secure the two-thirds majority needed for the amendment to be made.

Only 138 MPs of the 221 in the house at the time voted. Of the 59 lawmakers who abstained from voting, 18 were from GPS.

On the new bill, de facto Law Minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong expressed hope that GPS will give their fullest support as Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg and Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal have been instrumental in the second move.

Liew said that the once the attorneys-general had agreed on the wording of the revised bill, he would bring it to the Cabinet for approval. — DayakDaily