Sarawak govt’s proposal not reflected in second reading of amendment bill — Wan Junaidi

Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar

KUCHING, April 11: Santubong MP Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said there were consultations from Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) with de-facto Law Minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong after the first reading of the Amendment to Federal Constitution Article 1(2) Bill on April 4, but the former’s proposal was not reflected in the second reading.

Wan Junaidi said from the beginning, the Sarawak government had the intention to support the Bill.

“However, when the blue Bill was tabled in the Dewan Rakyat, we realised it was only politics and not really to ‘give’ what Sarawak and Sabah had wanted.”

“From there, we, the GPS MPs, then split our roles. Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof (Petra Jaya MP) and Datuk Seri Nancy (Shukri, Batang Sadong MP) had two engagements with the de facto Law Minister Datuk Liew to amend the Bill while I prepared for the referral of the Bill to the Select Committee.

“We had several consultations with our lawyers at the Sarawak Attorney Chambers for the draft of the amendment. The GPS MPs continued our internal discussions and division of work. Datuk Seri Tiong (King Sing) and Datuk Seri Fadillah went to engage our MP friends to explain our position and stand,” said Wan Junaidi in a press statement yesterday.

It was the plan for GPS MPs to continue to engage with the Law Minister, firstly, to withdraw the Bill and to study the Constitution for a greater amendment on some of the inconsistencies in the Constitution, for example, the interpretation of ‘Federation’ in Article 160(2), which refers to the Federation established under the Federation of Malaya Agreement.

“Therefore, to our considered opinion, the hundreds of ‘Federation’ appearing in the Federal Constitution is about the States in Malaya while Sarawak and Sabah are not part of the Federation of Malaya. So, we want that word ‘Federation’ to be redefined to refer to the Malaysia Agreement of 1963.”

Secondly, to realise the spirit of ‘equal partnership’ based on the MA63, GPS MPs suggested that the Bill includes the words ‘… Pursuant to Malaysia Agreement 1963…’ and not just putting Sarawak and Sabah into group (b) States in the Federation of Malaysia.

“So, all of the GPS MPs agreed that the amendment was not well considered and that the opinion of Sarawak and Sabah were never consulted and considered.”

Wan Junaidi added that on April 9, after Datuk Seri Fadillah and his discussions with Liew, the minister expressed his reservation on the inclusion of MA63 in the Article 1(2) amendment, but he wanted to consult the federal Attorney General and get the consent of the Prime Minister.

“By 2.15pm, the government’s new amendment Bill was distributed on the tables of MPs in the Dewan. This time purportedly to reinstate to the previous wording of Article 1(2) to pre-1976.

“Still, there is no reference to the Malaysia Agreement of 1963. From this, we could see that they do not want the spirit of MA63 to be in the Constitution. And again, we discussed among ourselves on our stand. We all agree to stand, advised by Kuching and the Chief Minister, on our next course of action.

“We maintained this stand to the end and advised our colleagues in Barisan Nasional, PAS and the Sabah MPs who are not in PH government,” said Wan Junaidi.

After that, he said GPS’ stand to refer the Bill to the Special Select Committee of Parliament continued.

“I was to table the motion after the second reading. The Prime Minister tabled the Bill in the second reading. His explanation on Article 160(2) was really mind-boggling — it seems there are ‘two’ meanings to the word ‘Federation’ in the Federal Constitution.

“One refers to the Federation of Malaya established under Agreement 1957, and indeed there is another for the Federation of Malaya, Sarawak and Sabah. However, there is no explanation when either one is to be used.

“I stood up under Rule 54(2) of the Rules of Dewan Rakyat for the Bill to be referred to the Special Select Committee of Parliament after the winding up. We lost on the ‘Division’ but sent a strong message that we, GPS MPs, could not be part of another mistake in Dewan Rakyat — the failure of the government to treat the importance of Malaysia Agreement 1963 to Sarawakians and the need to put the establishment of the Federation of Malaysia is by the Agreement of 1963 and not the Malayan Agreement of 1957.”

He said it was the fault of the federal government not to appreciate the importance of MA63 to Sarawakians and to put the Agreement in the Federal Constitution to reflect its significance as it was the GPS intention to amend Article 1(2) and to put the spirit of MA63 for posterity in the most important document in the country — the Federal Constitution.

“The PH government lost that opportunity in making their first step, which we, in GPS, believe should be the first right step, not the first wrong step again.

“That was why we did not oppose the voting in the Dewan because there was a good intention to amend, albeit wrong, so we, GPS MPs, decided to abstain from making a similar mistake yet again,” said Wan Junaidi. — DayakDaily