Sarawak proposes Article 160(2) amendment to restore equal partner status

Abang Johari speaking to reporters.

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By Geryl Ogilvy

KUCHING, March 12: The Sarawak government has proposed amending Article 160(2) of the Federal Constitution to redefine the term “the federation” to restore the status of Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners with Peninsular Malaysia.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said the proposed amendment to Article 160(2) will give force to the content of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) in the Federal Constitution.

Currently, the term “the federation” under Article 160(2) refers to the federation established under the 1957 Federation of Malaya Agreement.

“At the moment, Article 160(2) states the Federation of Malaya Agreement. We proposed the change (in definition) to the Federation of Malaysia Agreement (1963).

“Once you amend 160(2), it will give force to MA63 in the constitution including Article 1(2), in pursuant to MA63,” he told reporters after officiating at the state-level fatwa seminar at the Sarawak Islamic Complex, here today.

Abang Johari said the state-ruling Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) coalition will support the amendment to Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution if it is tabled in Parliament.

In April last year the previous Pakatan Harapan goverment failed to obtain the two-thirds majority in Parliament to amend Article 1(2) to restore Sabah and Sarawak’s status as equal partners with Peninsular Malaysia in the Federation of Malaysia.

Pakatan managed to secure 138 votes with no lawmakers disagreeing. However, 59 MPs abstained from voting including GPS and Barisan Nasional members.

Pakatan needed 148 votes out of the 222 seats in the Dewan Rakyat.

On another note, Abang Johari said the state will continue its Cabinet Committee on MA63 meeting with the new Perikatan Nasional-led federal goverment under Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

“We don’t have to start all over. We just continue where we left off as many things have been agreed (upon) previously. We want to finish this (come to a conclusion) immediately,” he continued.

Abang Johari also expressed contentment with the new federal cabinet, where Sarawak has four full ministers and six deputy ministers.

Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof was also made one of the four senior ministers after Muhyiddin opted not to appoint a deputy prime minister in his cabinet line-up.

Sarawak was eventually offered seven deputy minister posts but Bintulu MP Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing, who is also Progressive Democratic Party president, rejected the National Unity portfolio.

“We are content. Even the Sabah and Sarawak Affairs portfolio was set up in respect to MA63. Implementation was on what has been agreed upon,” Abang Johari said, in reference to the special portfolio created under Muhyiddin’s cabinet.

Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) president and Kota Marudu MP Datuk Seri Maximus Johnity Ongkili was appointed its minister, while Mukah MP Datuk Hanifah Hajar Taib of Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) the deputy minister. — DayakDaily