Micheal Kong-DAP and PSB keen to provide fresh input on bill amendment

Michael Kong

KUCHING, Nov 13: The improved proposed amendment to Article 16 of the Constitution of the State of Sarawak still leaves much to be desired, opined special assistant to Sarawak DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen, Michael Kong.

Kong in a press statement today, said members from DAP and PSB have all agreed that the exclusivity to be a member of the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly shall only be reserved for Sarawakians.

“How the constitution should be drafted in order to re-emphasis this and to avoid any further misinterpretation is for the drafters to sit and discuss among themselves, and an amendment, especially to the constitution, should not be rushed without consultation from both sides of the political divide.

“If members of GPS needed the input from other parties and is amenable to a discussion with members of the opposition, we would have been more than willing to sit down to deliberate together because this is for the best interests of Sarawakians,” he said.

At the same time, Kong believed that the new amendment should include clarity on the amount of time spent in Sarawak prior to being nominated to be a member.

“In the words of GPS leaders, only Sarawakians know what is best for Sarawakians. Then, why is the word “Sarawakian” not included in the amendment?

“Without the clarity, a person born in West Malaysia or Sabah to a parent who is born in Sarawak (but not a Sarawakian) and who has spent his entire life outside the state but returns one-year before the election may now be a member of the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly,” he asked.

On Nov 10 (Tuesday) Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah 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 21 to 18-years old.

However, the bill had caused a fiery debate among the August House members and was deferred by Sarawak Legislative Assembly Speaker Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar due to abnormality in the drafting of the bill involving the definition of “Sarawakian”.

Following that, on Nov 12 (Thursday), Abdul Karim tabled a revised Constitution of the State of Sarawak (Amendment) Bill 2020, which tightened the definition of “Sarawakian” and was passed on the same day. –DayakDaily