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By Adrian Lim
KUCHING, Nov 11: Mulu assemblyman Dato Gerawat Gala said the opposition parties namely the Democratic Action Party (DAP) and Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) have politicised the proposed amendment to Article 16 of the Sarawak Constitution by taking advantage of the general wordings to the proposed amendment which was tabled at the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) yesterday.
Gerawat believes that they have jumped the gun by politicising the amendment in order to gain political mileage.
“DAP and PSB are purposely creating the wrong impression that the amendment is to make it easy for and open up the way for non-Sarawakians to contest in our State election.
“This is totally against Gabungan Parti Sarawak’s (GPS) fundamental principle of Sarawak First.
“GPS was formed to fight for and protect Sarawak’s rights and interest and GPS will not go against its fundamental principle.
“DAP and PSB are capitalising and politicising the amendment for their own political agenda,” he said in a media statement.
Gerawat added that there were two parts to the amendments.
He said the first part of the amendment was to reduce the age of those eligible to stand in elections from 21 to 18 years old.
Gerawat explained that the amendment is necessary and consequential to the amendment made to the Federal Constitution passed by Parliament which reduced the age from 21 to 18 years.
He outlined that if GPS does not make the amendment, GPS will be wrongly accused of denying the right of young voters between 18-21 years old to vote and stand for election.
He said GPS respects the rights of those above 18 years old to participate in elections.
Gerawat added the second part of the amendment is on the definition of “residence” in Article 16 of the Sarawak Constitution.
He explained that the amendment is to ensure that non-Sarawakians for instance the West Malaysians and Sabahans will not be eligible to contest in our State election if they are just mere residents in Sarawak.
“There is no definition of the term “residence” in Article 16.
“Without the proposed amendment to give a very strict and tight definition of the term “residence” non Sarawakians from Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah who have a residential address in Sarawak or who stay in Sarawak for a mere few weeks or months can contest as a candidate in our Sarawak State election.
“Surely all Sarawakians would not want that to happen and so the amendment is necessary to plug this loophole in the present wordings of Article 16.
“The intent of the amendment is to ensure that only Sarawakians can contest in our State election,” he added. —DayakDaily