NGO hopes second reading of Bill to amend constitution will include what Sarawak, Sabah deserve

Datuk John Lau Pang Heng

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KUCHING, April 4: Sarawak Patriot Association (SPA) is concerned with the proposed amendment to Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution, which removes Sarawak and Sabah from the list of 13 states and placed them in a separate group.

The Bill was tabled for first reading today, and SPA president Datuk John Lau noted that the proposed change did not guarantee the equal status of Sabah and Sarawak with Peninsular Malaysia.

In a statement, he said the amendments should have mentioned financial and budget allocations as well as the allocation of senate and parliamentary seats in both states.

“We pray that during the Bill’s second reading, the Federal Government will include the breadth of the territorial sea of Sabah and Sarawak. We hope the sea territory shall not exceed 12 nautical miles measured from the baseline determined in accordance with Article 3 Part II of Article 3 of the United National Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS 1982),” Lau said.

SPA, he added, also hoped that the Petroleum Development Act 1974 shall not be applicable to the coastal states of Sabah and Sarawak, which should be equally applicable to Territory Sea Act 2012, the void Articles 4 and 5 on oil and gas and other resources in the Exclusive Economic Zone Act 1984 and the Fisheries Act 1985.

SPA further hope that Article 46 shall also be amended to restrict states in Peninsular Malaysia to hold more than two-thirds of the parliamentary seats and by increasing the number of parliamentary seats for Sabah and Sarawak to more than one-third of the total parliamentary seats in the 222-seat Dewan Rakyat.

In this way, amendments of the Federal Constitution in future would require Sabah and Sarawak MPs’ support.

He added, the Federal Constitution’s Article 160 needs to be amended so that the Federation means the Federation established under the Federation of Malaysia Agreement 1963 and not Federation of Malaya Agreement 1957.

Lau also opined that clear allocations of financial resources to Sabah and Sarawak should be clearly spelt out in the second reading of the Bill.

“The federal government needs to give time to the governments of Sabah and Sarawak to discuss and debate the Federal Constitution amendments, which affect them in the respective State Assemblies.

“Just by amending Federal Constitution Article 1 (2) does not guarantee equal status of Sabah and Sarawak in the Federation of Malaysia,” he lamented, adding that the amendment is just ‘cosmetic’. — DayakDaily