Sarawak must stay vigilant in defending its rights, Mulu rep cautions

Datuk Gerawat Gala - file pic

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, April 30: There is every risk that Putrajaya will continue to encroach upon Sarawak rights even to the extent of disregarding constitutional safeguards if Sarawak does not act firmly to defend its rights under the Federal Constitution and Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

Mulu assemblyman Datuk Gerawat Gala highlighted that the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government had consistently maintained since the late Pehin Sri Adenan Satem’s era that the MA63 together with its related documents like the Inter-Governmental Committee Report (IGC Report) and the Cobbold Commission Report must be given legal recognition and effect as these documents formed the substratum of the Federal Constitution.

“The Federal Court in the case of Datuk Mohd Tufail (MLJ 2009 pg 165) and in Keruntum’s case (CLJ 2017 pg 676) recognised the validity of MA63. The Federal Court, in its judgement, recognised the validity of MA63 and is ready to enforce its provisions and the IGC Report,” he said in his debate on the Motion for Amendments to the Federal Constitution in the State Legislative Assembly today.

He added that GPS wanted to include MA63 in the amendment and make consequential amendments to Article 160(2) so that MA63 together with its related document like the IGC Report will be accorded constitutional status, leaving no lingering doubt as to its enforceability and to ensure that the Federation of Malaysia is as defined in MA63 and not the 1957 Federation of Malaya Agreement.

He, thus, emphasised that it was incomprehensible why Pakatan Harapan (PH) refused to accept GPS’ proposal for incorporation of MA63 in the amendment or to defer the amendment to the Select Committee when the Federal Court had recognised in no uncertain terms the validity and enforceability of MA63 and IGC Report in Keruntum’s case and Mohd Tufail’s case.

“Learning from our experience with the previous as well as the present central government, it is absolutely critical for us to make constitutional amendments to strengthen existing and relevant provisions in the Constitution to stop Parliament from encroaching into or taking away legislative and executive powers from the state, which is provided for in the Constitution,” he added.

Gerawat, who is also the DUN Deputy Speaker, stressed that MA63 gave birth to the Federation of Malaysia and the Constitution.

“All parties of MA63, including Sarawak, must recognise and are bound by the terms of MA63. To say otherwise is tantamount to saying that there is no Malaysia,” he said.

“MA63 must be given its proper status by incorporating it into the Federal Constitution as part of the amendment to Article 1(2) and Article 160(2).”

Gerawat pointed out that there ought to be further amendments to the Constitution as set out in the proposed list of amendments circulated with this motion both to preserve the sanctity of the Malaysian Constitution as well as to provide further protection for Sarawak against any or further erosion of Sarawak’s rights as provided in the Constitution and MA63. — DayakDaily