Sarawak DUN passes motion proposing comprehensive amendment to Federal Constitution

Seen is Sharifah Hasidah tabling her motion in this photo of the DUN in-house broadcast feed.

By Geryl Ogilvy

KUCHING, April 30: The Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) has unanimously passed a motion that proposed a comprehensive amendment to the Federal Constitution upon conclusion of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) discussions with the federal government.

The motion received support from lawmakers from both sides of the political divide.

The motion, moved by de facto state Law Minister Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali (GPS-Samariang), was passed after being debated close to seven hours by 47 lawmakers, including eight opposition members, at the DUN sitting today.

In the opposition camp, Sarawak Pakatan Harapan chairman Chong Chieng Jen (DAP-Kota Sentosa), state Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) vice-chairman Ali Biju (PKR-Krian) and political heavyweights such as See Chee How (PKR-Batu Lintang) and Irene Chang (DAP-Bukit Assek) were among those who supported the motion.

The motion sought to secure a more comprehensive amendment to the Federal Constitution to:

(1) restore the status of Sarawak as partner equal to the Federation of Malaya when the MA63 was agreed and entered into;

(2) provide that the Federation ordinarily referred to is one that was established under MA63 and not under the Federation of Malaya Agreement, 1957; and

(3) safeguard the legislative and executive powers of Sarawak, the sources of revenues and special grants assigned to Sarawak and her financial autonomy.

“I am moving this motion so that this House has the opportunity to express in clear and explicit terms what amendments to the Federal Constitution must be included in any future constitutional amendment Bill to be presented to Parliament, and that the Parliamentary Select Committee that is to be formed will be able to understand and endorse these proposed amendments from this august House,” said Sharifah Hasidah when tabling the motion earlier today.

Amendments to the Federal Constitution to be sought upon conclusion of MA63 discussions with the federal government:

1. Amendment to Article 1(2) to be read as follows:

1(2) The States of the Federation, pursuant to Malaysia Agreement 1963, shall be –
(a) The States of Malaya, namely Johore, Kedah, Kelantan, Malacca, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Penang, Perak, Perlis, Selangor, and Terengganu; and
(b) The Borneo States, namely Sabah and Sarawak.

2. Insert a new Article 85A to be read as follows:

85A. (1) Where a land or an interest in land in the Borneo States is occupied, used, controlled by Federal Government or a public authority for a federal purpose under section 75 of the Malaysia Act, 1963 [No.26 of 1963], or vested in the Federal Government or public authority after Malaysia Day for a federal purpose, ceases to be required for that federal purpose, that land shall not –

(a) be disposed of by the Federal Government or the public authority; or

(b) without the consent of the State Government be used for another federal or any other purpose other than the purpose for which the land was used immediately before Malaysia Day or the purpose stipulated in the document of title, if any, for the said land.

(2) Where the consent of the State Government is not given under paragraph (b) of Clause (1) –

(a) in the case of land occupied, used or controlled and managed by the Federal Government or any public authority pursuant to Section 75 of the Malaysia Act, 1963 [No.26 of 1963], the Federal Government shall offer the land back to the State Government subject to the State Government paying to the Federal Government for the value of any building constructed, or improvements on the land carried out by the Federal Government or the public authority since Malaysia Day; or

(b) in the case of land granted by the State Government to the Federal Government in pursuant to Articles 83 and 85, the land shall be reverted or surrendered back to the State Government upon the refund of all premium paid by the Federal Government for the land under Clause (2) of Article 83 or Clause (1) of Article 85.

3. Amendment to Article 95B

Add another Clause, to be numbered as Clause (1A), to be read as follows:

(1A) No amendment shall be made to the supplement to List II or List III of the Ninth Schedule or to this Constitution so as to include any matter not already in any of the Lists set out in the Ninth Schedule, without the consent of the Legislature of Sabah and Sarawak to be expressed by a resolution passed by the Legislature of that State.

4. Article 160(2)

4.1 Substituting the definition of “the Federation” with the following new definition:
“the Federation” shall mean the Federation established under the Malaysia Agreement signed on the 9th day of July 1963.

4.2 Add the following new definition:
“Malaysia Day” means the 16th day of September 1963.

5. Article 161A(7)

This Article lists out all the races which are indigenous to Sarawak (i.e natives of Sarawak). It is proposed to amend this Article by:

(a) adding after the words “Sea Dayak” the words “Ibans”

(b) adding after the words “Land Dayaks” the words “or Bidayuhs”; and

(c) adding after the words “Muruts” the words “or Lun Bawang”.

6. Amendment to the Legislative List in the Ninth Schedule

1. Transfer “Tourism” from Item 25A in List I (Federal List) to be listed as Item 10 in List III (Concurrent List);

2. Add “Environment” as Item 19 to List IIIA (Supplement to the Concurrent List for Sabah and Sarawak).

Sharifah Hasidah believed it was high time that the Federal Constitution pronounce categorically that Malaysia is a Federation formed pursuant to MA63 as it is totally wrong to have “the Federation” defined in Article 160(2) of the Constitution as “the Federation established under the Federation of Malaya Agreement 1957”.

She added that not recognising MA63 in the Constitution is akin to not recognising the existence of MA63. If the Constitution can recognise the Federation of Malaya Agreement 1948 and 1957, there is no reason why MA63 should not be recognised after 1963.

On the motion, which proposed any future amendment of the Constitution must incorporate a definition of Malaysia Day, Sharifah Hasidah reminded the august House that while the Federal Constitution made reference to Merdeka Day, 31 August 1957, there is no definition of Malaysia Day, even though the term is used in separate parts of the Constitution such as Articles 19(4), 95C, 161(1) and161A(6)(b).

“If Merdeka Day could be constitutionally defined, why can’t ‘Malaysia Day’ be specifically defined in Article 160(2)?”

Apart from the recognition of MA63 and Malaysia Day, she said the various races forming the native population of Sarawak should be properly defined.

Any amendment to the Constitution must safeguard the legislative powers of this august House and executive powers of the state government, she emphasised. — DayakDaily