– by Geryl Ogilvy
KUCHING, Oct 9: Restoring the status of Sarawak and Sabah as equal partners with Peninsular Malaysia must be done in good faith and can fully benefit both states, said Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.
The Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports opined that the Sarawak government would not have any problem supporting the proposed amendment to Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution provided that the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government listened to the grouses of Sarawakians.
He lamented that the amendment to Article 1(2) in 1976 downgraded the status of Sabah and Sarawak to become the 12th and 13th states in Malaysia, whereas they were “regions” previously.
“We even sent a team to the Olympics before Malaysia back then, and this must be seen from such an angle. The downgrading of Sarawak’s status is one of the things that made many Sarawakians unhappy over the years.
“Now that there is an effort to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution, Sabah and Sarawak should be made their own regions under the Federation of Malaysia,” he told a press conference at Bangunan Baitulmakmur today to announce the staging of the Sarawak Regatta soon.
Abdul Karim reminded that under the Federal Constitution, Sarawak and Sabah have special rights that differentiated both states from those in the peninsula, such as rights of immigration, sales tax as well as tourism. It also included matters under the State List, such as land and sea territorial areas.
Abdul Karim was responding to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law) Datuk Liew Vui Keong’s statement made here yesterday. Liew said the federal government wanted to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution to restore the status of Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners with Peninsular Malaysia
The Bill would be tabled at the next parliamentary session, which starts on Oct 15. The proposed amendment would reinstate the status of Sabah and Sarawak as defined under Article 4 of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
The de facto law minister also called on all MPs, including those from opposition parties in Sabah and Sarawak, to support the proposed amendment that required a two-thirds majority to be passed in Parliament.
When asked about Budget 2019 that will be tabled in Parliament soon, Abdul Karim expressed his hope that the PH government would come up with a budget that is fair across the board for infrastructure development.
Sarawak, amid the dilapidated schools’ issue, road connectivity as well as water and electricity coverage, would need more money for these amenities, he added.
“Now is the time for them to prove that all the promises stated in their GE14 manifesto are kept,” he reasoned.
Abdul Karim also hoped that extra funds would be channelled for the state to improve its tourism industry.
“There must be a genuine effort to promote Sarawak, its attractions and cultures to the rest of the world, not only in Malaysia. This will involve a little bit of funding.
“Promoting Sarawak overseas will cost a lot of money. We need help from the federal government, especially on connectivity and building up facilities such as airports and others,” he said. — DayakDaily