Shankar Ram: GPS did the right thing with amendment bill

The Parliament building in Kuala Lumpur.

KUCHING, April 13: Lawyer Shankar Ram Asnani defended the move by Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) to reject the Bill to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution on Tuesday (April 9).

He said it was important that the proposed amendment be drafted based on the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), as it was the basis of the Malaysia Federal Constitution.

“It is important to understand the above point to appreciate what exactly is GPS trying to do in relation to the recent proposed amendments to Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution to restore the rights of Sabah and Sarawak,” Shankar Ram, an advocate of the High Court in Sabah and Sarawak, said in a statement today.

He explained that MA63 was signed between five signatories, which were Governments of the Federation of Malaya, United Kingdom, North Borneo (Sabah), Sarawak and Singapore, whereby Singapore, Sarawak and North Borneo would federate with the existing states of the Federation of Malaya and the Federation would be called “Malaysia”.

The MA63 was not signed with Kelantan, Johor nor with any other Malayan States but with the Federation of Malaya as a party representing the other Malayan States, he added.

The Federal Parliament then passed the Malaysia Act 1963 based on the Malaysia Bill form, with various Annexures A, B, C, D to J attached to the Malaysia Agreement, and to amend the Federation of Malaya Constitution, 1957, Article 1(1) and (2) to provide, inter alia, for the admission of the three new States and for the alteration of the name of the Federation to that of “Malaysia”.

The Act received the Royal Assent on August 26, 1963 and came into operation on September 16, 1963, Shankar Ram said.

“So what became the Malaysia Federal Constitution, with the coming into effect of Malaysia Act 1963, is the MA63 hat brought about such.

“It is only sensible and proper to have an agreement beforehand, which is the MA63 with all the conditions and assurances required by Sabah and Sarawak to be stated clearly therein and in the earlier concluded Inter Governmental Committee (IGC) Report 1962 specifically mentioned in Article VIII of MA63, before you form a Nation, Malaysia,” he explained.

He cited the Malaysia Bill attached to the Malaysia Agreement 1963, which is under Annex A, Article 4 which read as follows:

PART II

THE STATES OF THE FEDERATION

4. (1) The Federation shall be known, in Malay and in English, by the name Malaysia.

(2) The States of the Federation shall be –

(a) the State of Malaya, namely, Johore, Kedah, Kelantan, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Pahang, Penang, Perak, Perlis, Selangor and Trengganu ; and

(b) the Borneo States, namely, Sabah and Sarawak; and

(c) the State of Singapore.

(3) The territories of each of the States mentioned in Clause (2) are the territories comprised therein immediately before Malaysia Day.

“Therefore, MPs of GPS were actually doing the right and proper thing to protect Sarawak by insisting firmly that the Proposed Amendments states clearly and specifically the MA63 because it mentioned specifically the IGC Report, signed on February 27, 1963, that guaranteed the rights – the assurances and undertakings given for Borneo States – of Sabah and Sarawak,” he said.

Shankar Ram also cited the proposed amendment to Article 1(2) by GPS as follows:

“The States in the Federation pursuant to the Malaysia Agreement 1963 shall be –

(a) the States of Malaya, namely, Johore, Kedah, Kelantan, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Pahang, Penang, Perak, Perlis, Selangor and Terengganu; and

(b) the Borneo States, namely, Sabah and Sarawak.”

“We must go back to the roots to be able to make an honest and sensible restoration of Sarawak Rights. After all, the word ‘restore’ means to return something or someone to an earlier good condition or position.

“This is the same position when it comes to the definition of ‘the Federation’ under Article 160(2) of the Federal Constitution that reads ‘the Federation’, meaning the Federation established under the Federation of Malaya Agreement 1957.

“It is obvious that ‘Federation’ now has a different meaning and Article 160(2) must be amended to reflect MA63,” he explained.

He said the Malayan States formed their Federation of Malaya in 1957, and Sabah and Sarawak later in 1963 formed Malaysia together with the Federation of Malaya.

“For those people who may think that Sarawak Dewan Undangan Negeri (DUN) is below or lower to Parliament and the DUN or Sarawak has no right, with great respect, such is a wrong line of thinking because Malaysia is a nation that subscribes to Constitutional Supremacy.

“Parliament and State Legislative Assemblies have different powers under the Constitution and are not in any sense ‘servient’.

“The Constitution provides a framework for them to work together, according to Article 161E of the Federal Constitution.” — DayakDaily