By Karen Bong
KUCHING, April 11: All members of the Special Cabinet Steering Committee need to go back to the drawing board and come up with the desired constitutional amendment bill because the one that was defeated in Parliament on Tuesday was “half-cooked”.
Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) Youth chief Michael Tiang said Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) lawmakers had emphasised that every step taken must be the right one and there was no point to rush this through as it involved major decisions.
“Amending the constitution is a huge task. So, if we do it, it must be done right the first time,” he told a press conference here today. Also present were SUPP Youth deputy chief Andrew Peter and secretary Milton Foo.
Tiang opined that if Sarawak had agreed to the second version of the bill, there was no assurance of ‘equal partner status’, and it would be even more difficult to go back to the negotiation table to talk about rights in future.
He reiterated that MPs from Sarawak and Sabah should have been consulted well before it was tabled, but that was not done even though both states had representatives in the Steering Committee.
Tiang said, among others, the phrase ‘Malaysia Agreement 1963’ (MA63) was not included in the Bill, the definition of ‘the Federation’ was not dealt with, and the equal partners status was not mentioned.
He reckoned PH had refused to put MA63 in the amendment due to worries that it might affect the Malayan states in certain ways. Hence, he questioned the reasons for having the Steering Committee in the first place.
He shared that GPS had discussed and laid out all the demands and recommendations from A-Z to the Steering Committee, but they were not adopted in the amendment bill.
“They (PH) should ask themselves what went wrong there. Isn’t the committee supposed to come out with something everyone agreed and happy about?” he asked.
Tiang described the defeat of the Bill as not a loss but a victory to delay things as the Steering Committee was still ‘work in progress’.
“GPS has to be extra cautious as it is not about them but the future of Sarawak and its people. They don’t want cosmetic changes, and it is not about political victory. What for if Sarawakians continue to live in a sorry condition, so backwards compared to Malaya? ” he asked.
Rebutting Democratic Action Party (DAP) Sarawak chairman Chong Chieng Jen’s views over the defeated bill, Tiang said the bill was DAP’s tool to repair their credibility in Sarawak, which they had lost since the last general election.
“They have not delivered anything. They have not given any goodies to Sarawak. They have not spoken for Sarawak. They have not fought for Sarawak’s position and rights in Malaysia. If they had, they would not have only tabled a bill but move a motion in Parliament a long time ago to demand from Putrajaya our rights,” he said.
Tiang also suggested that the Sarawak government push for a referendum to enable the people to decide on the many big decisions to be made for the state, such as in the 1960s, when SUPP pushed for a referendum to ask the people whether to form Malaysia or not. — DayakDaily