KUCHING, Nov 16: SUPP Youth chief Michael Tiang is ready to accept PSB president Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh’s challenge to have a public debate on the latest constitutional amendment on a person’s eligibility to become a Sarawak lawmaker.
“I’m more than happy to grab this opportunity to have a debate with Wong Soon Koh, a senior state assemblyman for Bawang Assan since 1991 since he reckoned that such a public debate is necessary to allow the public to see whether the new amendment has in any way become the risk of erosion of the very basic rights of Sarawakians,” Tiang highlighted in a press statement today.
On the recently passed Constitution of the State of Sarawak (Amendment) Bill 2020 which was criticised by Wong, Tiang asserted the said amendment was in fact drafted according to the principle of ‘jus sanguinis’, an international legal principal of nationality law.
“The Latin term ‘jus sanguinis’ means ‘right of blood’. As one might guess, this is the right of citizenship to a country or a territory your parents or one of your parents is a citizen of. Regardless of where you are born, you have the right to such citizenship in your parent’s’ country or territory.
“Therefore our constitutional amendment correctly requires (for) any eligible person to become a member of our State Legislative Assembly, he must have Sarawakian parentage.
“In other words, he must have at least either one of his parents who is a born Sarawakian and he himself is normally resident in Sarawak, even though he might not be born in Sarawak.
“It’s a clear intention of the amendment that: a non-Sarawakian is never a Sarawakian even if he was born in Sarawak. But a Sarawakian though not born in Sarawak, his parent’s Sarawakian status would allow him to be eligible to contest in a Sarawak state election and to become a member in the august House,” Tiang added.
On the Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) president’s illustration of Leila and Putra, Tiang said Wong is contradicting his own view that any Malaysian not born in Sarawak can be a candidate in Sarawak Election.
According to Wong’s illustration, Leila is a daughter to West Malaysian parents. Even though Leila was born in Sarawak, due to her West Malaysian parentage, she is a non-Sarawakian. She married a West Malaysian husband and gave birth to a daughter, Putri, in West Malaysia. Although Putri is now working in Sarawak as a policewoman with permanent resident status in Sarawak, Putri is still not eligible to run as a candidate in a Sarawak state election as neither of her parents is a Sarawakian.
“In fact, the illustration given by Wong can only further elaborate the purpose of the new amendment that is to prevent non-Sarawakians from becoming members of our State Legislative Assembly (DUN) and hence further protects Sarawakians of our basic rights in the DUN.
“The objective of this constitutional amendment is also very much in line with GPS’ (Gabungan Parti Sarawak) political agenda that is to always safeguard Sarawak’s rights and privileges by putting ‘Sarawak First’ in its governance of the state,” Tiang asserted.
While mocking Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) president Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian for failing to understand the English words used in the bill, Wong and his Democratic Action Party (DAP) colleagues are in fact making a blunder by using basic English to interpret the constitutional amendment to Article 16 of the State Constitution, and such erroneous interpretation is an irresponsible and misleading act altogether, Tiang opined.
The Sarawak government last week introduced the Constitution of the State of Sarawak (Amendment) Bill 2020 to define the term ‘resident in the state’ to prevent non-Sarawakians and those who are not living in Sarawak permanently from seeking election as state lawmakers.
Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the bill will remove all interpretative, ambiguities or uncertainties as to the real intent and objective of the proposed amendment.
He said under the amendment, only two categories of persons are qualified as ‘resident in the state’ namely (1) a citizen born in the state of Sarawak whose parents or either of them was also born in the state, and he is normally resident in the state, or (2) a citizen though not born in the state whose parents or either of them was born in the state, and he is normally resident in the state.
Wong however, held a different view and had in a press conference insisted that the bill has allowed Malaysians who are not born in Sarawak to be eligible to become a member of the highest law-making body in Sarawak which is the DUN. — DayakDaily