Sarawak hopes Cabinet Steering Committee will continue to do what it was established to do — PBB leader

Datuk Idris Buang

KUCHING, April 11: Following abstention during block voting of the Federal Constitution Article 1(2) Amendment Bill on Tuesday (April 9), Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) MPs will continue to fight for a Parliamentary Select Committee to be formed to look into the return of lost rights to Sarawak and Sabah.

At the same time, PBB information chief Datuk Idris Buang hoped Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad would ensure that the Cabinet Steering Committee would continue to do what it was established to do and that the Technical and Working Committees under it would continue their tasks as scheduled.

“Additionally, in the spirit of wanting to address the non-fulfilment of obligations of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (with IGC Recommendations annexed thereto) and the Federal Constitution, by any of the parties i.e. Federated Malay States, Sabah and Sarawak, all these years since forming Malaysia, we hope there will be a Special Select Committee of Parliament formed, as suggested by the Prime Minister himself in his winding-up speech on Tuesday, in order to enhance our common efforts in getting to amicable or workable closures of antecedent or outstanding issues,” said Idris in a statement today.

He shared that a similar suggestion to form a parliamentary select committee was moved earlier by Santubong MP Dato Sri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar and Petra Jaya MP Dato Sri Fadillah Yusof on behalf of Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) MPs. Most of the opposition MPs who spoke during the debate on the Bill on Tuesday also asked Parliament to form a select committee with a view to have reasonable inputs from all stakeholders.

“It would be a real disappointment to all Malaysians, particularly the people of Sabah and Sarawak, if all the efforts to address the shortcomings in the implementation of MA63 is stalled or done in any lesser mode.”

It is his opinion, the Bill did not get the mandatory two-thirds majority support for it to pass because it lacked the necessary ingredients in terms of proper wording and substance in order to really give the constitutional and legal meaning that places ‘equal-partner/party status’ to Sarawak as envisaged by MA63, the IGC Report and the Cobbold Commission Report.

“The GPS MPs had fiercely contended that nothing in the draft Bill was there to say that Sabah and Sarawak are ‘equal partners’ and, furthermore, the MA63 was not referred to. The Bill could not be supported also because the interpretation of the word ‘Federation’ in Article 160 of the Federal Constitution only refers to mean ‘the Federation pursuant to the Federation of Malaya Agreement 1957’; thus, confusingly leaving out Sabah and Sarawak and MA63 from the equation.

“This anomaly or ‘error’ in the interpretation of the word ‘Federation’ has been there since 1963, tending us to believe that even the 1963 version of Article 1(2) was also not properly drafted to reflect the requirement of MA63. That lack of substance subsisted even when the same article was amended along with another 40 odds amendments to the Constitution was made in 1973.”

Idris asserted that the Federal Constitution had to be looked at and reviewed in the light of MA63 holistically and once and for all.

“Due to the multifaceted nature in subject-matter covered by our Federal Constitution, amendments to the Constitution can be done by stages, depending on priorities and needs of the nation, but any exercise thereto must be done in such a way that the proposed amendment(s) must essentially be complete in form as well as substance in any particular regard or aspect, without leaving any legal ambiguity, hiatus, anomaly, vacuum or lacuna.”

He described GPS MPs as being wise enough to fathom what is right and what is not so right for Sarawak and its people.

“But more important than just being wise, they are very careful and conscious of how history will eventually judge them, and they want to be judged by our present and future generations as very astutely responsible leaders of the people who keep tabs of the peoples’ pulses and fight for their needs and aspiration.

“History will tell why they could not just swallow something which was raw or half-cooked and meaningless such as the Bill on Tuesday, which was advanced by the Pakatan Harapan government and viciously supported by some Sarawak PH MPs without much thoughts and care for the interest of Sarawak and its people.”

Idris noted that some senior Sarawak PH MPs were noticeably quiet and seemingly mum during the debate session.

“GPS MPs had to make sure that in whatever they do it must be Sarawak First. Whilst it seems that those on the other side seemed to desperately want the Bill to be hurriedly passed as if they were really deep on a ‘party-survival’ kind of mode.” — DayakDaily