By Nancy Nais and Karen Bong
KUALA LUMPUR, April 9: Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii said lawmakers in Malaysia must admit that there is a ‘trust deficit’ between Sarawakians and the federal government due to the former Barisan Nasional (BN) government’s policies.
In his debate on the amendment of Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution bill in Parliament today, Dr Yii said although he is a lawmaker, he is also a Sarawakian who felt the sentiments of her people, whereby they felt suppressed and left behind in terms of development despite being a rich producer of natural resources.
“The ‘trust deficit’ should not be ignored nor simply dismissed. Significant steps should be taken to address this problem. The people are now very knowledgeable and the times in which politicians know better have passed. So now, the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government has the opportunity to chart its own history to do its best for the people of Sabah and Sarawak. And we should not waste this sacred opportunity given to us,” opined Dr Yii.
He also stressed that there was increasing concern with the growing anti-Malayan sentiment, especially in Sabah and Sarawak.
For him, the narrative adopted by certain quarters to blame Malaya for all the mistakes or disadvantages of Sabah and Sarawak was unhealthy and not right.
“I do not deny that we were left behind in development. I do not deny ‘we have been shortchanged’ in many respects. However, not all Malaysians, such as fishermen in Terengganu or farmers in Kedah, are stealing from us or eroding our rights,” he said.
Stressing that it was not only important for him as a Sarawakian, but also for Sabahans and everyone in West Malaysia, Dr Yii opined that through this amendment, the government was taking the first step to return to the original spirit of the formation of the Federation of Malaysia.
In fact, the PH government’s intention to make this amendment indicates the importance and privileges afforded to Sabah and Sarawak as well as the sincerity of the PH government to correct what has wronged or been done to Sabah and Sarawak.
Dr Yii insisted on the importance of understanding that Sabah and Sarawak did not join Malaysia but together formed Malaysia through the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
Thus, the Federal Constitution in 1963 was drafted in accordance with the spirit of the Malaysian Agreement 1963.
But in 1976, the BN government at that time under Prime Minister Tun Hussein Onn had made an amendment to Article 1(2) of the federal constitution and the fact was that Sabah and Sarawak were downgraded from the status of sovereignty that they should have.
According to existing Hansard records, Dr Yii said the amendment was supported and passed by a landslide of 130:9 votes for the second reading at 7.40pm on July 13, 1976, and again by 130:4 at the third reading an hour afterwards.
Hence, due to that amendment, til this day, Sabah and Sarawak had been downgraded as co-founding partners to only become one of the 13 states in Malaysia.
He added that among those who support this amendment were MPs from Sabah and Sarawak.
“And this is evidenced by the existing Hansard records .. of 22 out of 24 Sarawak MPs who have supported and lowered Sarawak’s true status. The amendment has remained for 47 years until now, but today, all of us from the PH or opposition have been given an opportunity to put our name in Malaysia’s history to correct the mistakes that had been committed almost 47 years ago and undo what BN had done to Sabah and Sarawak.
“In fact, a special provision under the constitution referring to a special allocation for the state of Sarawak under Item 112 (d) which has not been revised since 1969 will be reviewed and adjusted in the near future based on a discussion in the MA63 Special Cabinet Committee. Again we did what the previous government could not do since 1969,” Dr Yii said.
Although many parties argued that the amendment should be postponed and should be brought to the Select Committee to be discussed in more detail, he disagreed because there was now a MA63 Special Committee, where its members are composed not only from parliamentarians from both sides but also academicians, lawyers, attorney-generals from each state, academics, activists and heads of Sabah and Sarawak.
The high-ranking committee that has been set up and has been meeting many times and at every level of discussion is underway. So, he does not see any reason to postpone this amendment or refer to another select committee, respectively.
He also explained that in January this year, at the MA63 Technical Committee Meeting, the State Attorney General Chambers submitted a proposal to amend Article 1 (2) by restoring the words “Malayan States and the Borneo States”.
“This was sent by the State Government of Sarawak this year, but now, when we make this amendment, they also hold it down. In fact, the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) has already submitted another example of Amendments where ‘pursuant to the Malaysian Agreement 1963’ be included in the amendment.
“However, the words used in this constitutional amendment are similar to the MA63 and this has symbolised the original spirit of MA63 itself, and we do not need to enter it again. Even if we include those words, we actually change the MA63 (violates the spirit of MA63).
“If our previous leaders thought that MA63 was not symbolised, why did they not put those words at that time? And if we look at the description, which will also be included in the federal development, it clearly states and empowers MA63,” he added.
With this amendment, it also provides opportunities to strengthen the spirit of the federation in New Malaysia to foster a patriotic spirit, a spirit of love for the nation and the spirit of brotherhood among Malaysians in every region, he said.
Urging all the Malaysians to come together to create the history of restoring the original spirit of the formation of Malaysia, which has been adopted by previous leaders, Dr Yii said ‘A journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step, and today we can make that first step!’ — DayakDaily