NGOs disagree with govt’s proposed constitutional amendments to restore Sarawak’s rights

The Parliament of Malaysia (File photo)

KUCHING, Oct 25:  The confusing piecemeal approach in dealing with the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) issues and the classification of the MA63 Reports as a “state secret” is being questioned across Sabah and Sarawak communities on its lack of transparency and accountability. 

Sarawak Association for Peoples’ Aspiration (SAPA) president Dominique Ng, Sabah Sarawak Rights Australia New Zealand (SSRANZ) president Robert Pei and Borneo’s Plight in Malaysia Foundation (BoPiMaFo) President Daniel John Jambun and other NGOs issued a joint statement claiming that the people are still left in the dark as to the details of the ‘amendments’ which the various ministers are talking about. 

“This furtive approach reflects the governments’ desire to conceal the serious adverse findings on MA63 matters by various committees since 2018 and to impose their solutions without daring to seek the informed consent of the people to their plans and actions,” the group said.

The NGO group asked whether Sabah and Sarawak people’s best interests in relation to MA63 issues are being competently represented and served by the Minister for Sabah and Sarawak and the Sarawak Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office who appear to act in deference to and awe of the federal government. 

The group said they were mystified as to “why the Chief Ministers of Sabah and Sarawak had not in the first place, held a special sitting of their respective DUNs to firstly debate the issues and solutions before the Bill is introduced in the Dewan Rakyat as should been done?” 

The NGO group claimed what has been recently disclosed on the wording of the proposed amendment ( as reproduced below, is awkwardly phrased and failed to mention the Malaysia proclamation date of 16 September 1963) has caused a spreading uproar among “netizens” who are more aware of the issues. 

The Federation” means the Federation that was first established under the Federation of Malaya Agreement 1957 and further pursuant to an Agreement concluded on the 9th day of July, 1963 between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Federation of Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore, the Federation is called Malaysia with Colonies of North Borneo and Sarawak and the State of Singapore federated with the existing States of the Federation of Malaya as the States of Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore in accordance with the constitutional instruments annexed thereto but under and by virtue of the Agreement relating to the separation of Singapore from Malaysia as an independent and sovereign State dated 7th August 1965, Singapore has ceased to be a State of Malaysia. 

“Sabahans and Sarawakians have again angrily rejected this as unacceptable as the clause merely rephrased and repeated the existing offending Article 1 (a) in the federal constitution. 

“They objected to the reference of ‘The Federation of Malaya 1957’ as they consider Malaysia was a federation comprising four equal partners commencing from 16 September 1963. It is therefore questionable whether the 1965 Singapore Exit destroyed the legal basis for forming Malaysia,” said the group.

The other offending part of the amendment, the group claimed, is that it merely repeated the existing article describing Sabah and Sarawak as having the same status as the Malayan states and not as States on equal level with Malaya. 

The group reminded the Sabah and Sarawak governments that they have a solemn duty to act in the people’s best interest and ensure that the people’s legal right to a self-determination and independence must be protected and fulfilled in accordance with UN resolutions 1514 and international law. 

“The NGOs therefore strongly urge the State governments to seek a declaration on MA63 validity and ensure that there is transparency and accountability to the people. 

“If MA63 is found to be invalid, the Sarawak and Sabah governments should take this historic opportunity to seek independence as sovereign nations for the Borneo territories. If MA63 is valid they should ‘do the right thing’ once and for all times, and seek a full restoration of MA63,” said the group. 

De Facto Law Minister Wan Junaidi will be tabling a motion to amend the Federal Constitution to restore Sarawak’s and Sabah’s rights enshrined in MA63.  The details of the amendments have not been made to the public.  The motion was initially scheduled to be tabled on Oct 26, but the latest development was that, it would be postponed indefinitely without a set date. — DayakDaily