‘Missing’ phrase in amendment bill reason why GPS MPs abstained from voting, says Abang Jo

Dewan Usahawan Bumiputera Sarawak (DUBS) president Datu Abang Helmi Ikhwan (centre) presents a souvenir to Abang Johari (third left) after officiating at the SOGSE 2019 closing ceremony. Also in the photo are (from left) Assistant Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, State Secretary Tan Sri Mohd Morshidi Abdul Ghani and Assistant Minister of Industries and Investment Malcolm Mussen Lamoh (right). - Photo by Brad Rantayy.

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MIRI, April 14: The MPs of Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) abstained from voting for the Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution Amendment Bill because the proposed amendment did not include “pursuant to the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63)”.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said without the insertion, the bill would be useless and would not have any effect on Sarawak’s status and rights in the Federation of Malaysia.

He explained that reverting the said article of the Federal Constitution to its original form prior to 1976 would still make it unclear because that form of the Federal Constitution was based on what happened in 1957 when Sarawak was not part of the federation yet.

“That is why when we touch on the Federal Constitution we have to be very careful. That is why they (GPS MPs) abstained from voting. We must make sure the spirit and the letter of MA63 must be complied with.

“That is why we GPS demanded to insert ‘pursuant to the MA63’ in the amendment. Our Federal Constitution now is not very clear on that. It says ‘Federation’ but ‘Federation’ means ‘Persekutuan Tanah Melayu 1957’.

“We were still a colony at the time. What’s wrong with just inserting the ‘pursuant to the MA63’?” Abang Johari said during the Sarawak Oil and Gas Seminar and Exhibition 2019 (SOGSE 2019) closing ceremony here this morning.

He said according to MA63, four of Sarawak’s rights are non-negotiable when drafting the Federal Constitution, and they are land matters, immigration autonomy, rights over resources on the land, and boundary.

“As long as GPS is in Sarawak we will ensure that,” Abang Johari assured the audience. — DayakDaily