By Lian Cheng
KUCHING, Jan 25: Following its resounding victory in the recently concluded 12th Sarawak Election, the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government must set a timeline to rectify the injustices done to Sarawak by the federal government within the next five years.
This is the view of Sarawak Democratic Action Party (DAP) chief Chong Chieng Jen who believed that the injustice not only involved the illegal reaping of power from Sarawak and Sabah but also years of short-changing the two Borneo States in fund allocation.
“Since GPS had won with bigger representation in the Sarawak Legislative Assembly, then there must be a timeline stated for the next five years of when should we achieve devolution of power in education, when we should achieve devolution of power in healthcare and how should the allocation for Sarawak be increased proportionately every year,” said Chong.
Acknowledging the democratic principle of ‘one person one vote’ and the need for a fairer deal for Sarawak and Sabah which have low population numbers, Chong who is also Stampin MP proposed the appointment of more senators from the two Borneo States.
“I think in all federations, there is this question of ‘one person one vote’. And in such a system, I believe the states that have greater population would naturally have greater representation in the Parliament.
“In the Westminster system, there is always the Senate level of Parliament to represent those states which are underpopulated. In that sense, a quick way to address underrepresentation (of Sarawak and Sabah) in Parliament, which could be rectified in a short time, is by increasing the number of senators,” said Chong during a Webinar titled “The 2021 Constitutional Amendment: MA63 and the Status of the Borneo States in Malaysia” organised by Wisdom Foundation Malaysia tonight.
He believed increasing the number of senators from both Sarawak and Sabah is also a quick remedy in safeguarding the interests of both States.
Chong said his main concern following the passing of the Constitutional (Amendment) Bill 2021 in Parliament in December last year was that it was an end of a struggle instead of a beginning.
“We see it as the first step. We are concerned that it will be the end of the whole struggle rather the beginning of the whole struggle, not only by the federal (government), but even by the States (Sarawak and Sabah),” said Chong.
The amendment which was tabled by de facto Law Minister Dato Sri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar and passed by Parliament sought to, among others, list Sarawak and Sabah in the Federal Constitution as equal partners in the Federation of Malaysia.
It also sought to amend Clause 2 of Article 160 to insert a new definition of “Malaysia Day” and to change the definition of “the Federation” in line with the spirit of Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) signed on July 9, 1963, and by virtue of the agreement relating to the separation of Singapore from Malaysia as an independent and sovereign state dated Aug 7, 1965.
The amendment also aimed to amend Article 161A by replacing Clause 6(a) to say that in regard to Sarawak, the indigenous races of Sarawak are as stated in the State law, and also to remove Clause 7. — DayakDaily