`Once status is restored, we will have leverage to negotiate’

Wong King Wei

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KUCHING, April 6: Negotiation is not required to restore the status of Sabah and Sarawak because the 1976 amendment had gravely undermined the status of Sabah and Sarawak.

Padungan assemblyman Wong King Wei said this was the opinion of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government, and all it has to do now is restore the status of Sabah and Sarawak to what it was when they formed Malaysia in 1963.

“Therefore, the proposed amendment is set to restore the original spirit of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), and it perplexes me that Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), including Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) and Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), who have been singing about the significance of MA63 were the ones who objected to the amendment Bill and criticised the move,” he said in a statement today.

Wong explained that the proposed amendment was just a beginning to restore the status of Sabah and Sarawak, and once the status is restored, the Borneon states could come back to the roundtable in the Cabinet Committee for further negotiations on our rights.

He stressed that the significance of such amendment is that the PH government wanted Sabah, Sarawak and the Federation of Malaya to regain their status as what it was in 1963, and then engage in negotiations.

“Once your status is restored, you will have the leverage to negotiate. This is what the proposed amendment is all about.

“When it comes to negotiation, the status of a party matters, and once you’re placed on an equal status, you have the advantage over others. It does not work in such a way that you come negotiating with a lower status.

“When it comes to the MA63 negotiation, PH government is willing to let the Federation of Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak negotiate through equal status. This is a significant beginning and will lead to a different outcome,” said Wong.

He explained the difference between the 1963 and the 1976 Federal Constitution. In 1963, the Federation of Malaysia comprised: (a) the 11 states in Peninsular Malaysia; (b) the 2 Borneo states; and (c) Singapore. Even though the Constitution read ‘state’ or in Bahasa Malaysia ‘Negeri’, but ‘State’ could mean a territory.

He continued, the amendment to Article 1(2) of the Federation Constitution in 1976 merged (a) and (b) into one, making Sabah and Sarawak among the 13 states in Malaysia. The proposed amendment now is to restore the (a) and (b), and this is not 11+2, he added.

“What’s more, this proposed amendment is straight to the point without the need to negotiate. This is because the PH government wants those who came together to form the Federation of Malaysia to have their respective status restored before negotiation,” said Wong.

He criticised SUPP for trying to mislead the people into believing that the proposed amendment was worse than the 1976 amendment.

In fact, Wong said, they should admit it was their fault that the 1976 amendment downgraded Sabah and Sarawak to one of the 13 states, and now the PH government has to clean up the mess that they left behind.

“However, when we are sincere enough to clean up their mess, they turn our efforts into a political conspiracy. Let it be if the people feel it is better for us to go to the negotiating table as one of the 13 states. We have done our best.

“If the people of Sabah and Sarawak feel that this proposed amendment, which serves to restore the original spirit of MA63, is not a good thing and will be worse than the 1976 amendment, I think just let the Bill be.

“Just let Sabah and Sarawak negotiate with their status as one of the 13 states. I seriously think that the PH government has done its part. We have served history well, and we believe history will justify us one day,” said Wong. — DayakDaily