‘Revision to Article 16 can’t stop Malayans, Sabahans from being DUN members’

Voon Lee Shan

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KUCHING, Nov 12: Any amendment to Article 16 of the Sarawak Constitution will not be able to prohibit Malayans and Sabahans from standing elections and be elected as state assembly (DUN) member, asserts Parti Bumi Kenyalang (PBK) president Voon Lee Shan.

This he said, was because Article 44 (1) of the same Constitution states, ‘citizens’ means a citizen of the Federation of Malaysia and such definition is definitely is not restrictive to Sarawak born citizens but to all citizens in the Federation of Malaysia.

“So even if Article 16 is amended but without amending Article 44 (1), any Malaysian citizens still can contest for DUN seats. This had been there since 1969.


“Therefore, it is crystal clear that any Malayans and Sabahans are allowed to stand for elections in Sarawak and be elected in DUN if he or she is resident in Sarawak. By the present Article 16 of the Constitution, it is not difficult to qualify as a resident in Sarawak because the word, ‘resident’ is very loose and needs to be tightened up,” Voon pointed in a statement.

He also asserts that the proposed amendment to Article 16 is a backdoor provision to allow foreigners who obtain permanent resident (PR) status to contest as DUN members.

“The floodgate will still be open to them to stand in elections if Article 44 (1) is not amended. This will lead to Sarawak DUN being swarmed by Malayans and Sabahans.

‘At this moment, there are many Malayans who have bought the property and staying in Sarawak. Many had also served in the government service in the state and in the end, they chose to retire and make Sarawak their home.”

On the other hand, Voon also warned on Article 47 of the Federal Constitution that allows any Malaysian citizens to contest Parliament seats in Sarawak.

“Article 47 of the Federal Constitution states that, ‘Every citizen resident in the Federation is qualified to be a member’.

“Therefore, this is clear that under Article 160 of the Federal Constitution, ‘Citizens’ refers to citizens of the Federation of Malaysia, and therefore includes Malayans and Sabahans.

“There is nothing to prohibit Malayans and Sabahans to stand for elections for any parliamentary seat in Sarawak,” Voon explained.

In view that both Sarawak and Malaysia Parliamentary elections are very near, Voon said PBK, therefore, calls for an urgent amendment to all relevant Articles of both the State and Federal Constitutions to protect Sarawak rights for the benefit of 2.8 million Sarawakians. – DayakDaily