The devil is in the details — Fadillah

Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof

KUCHING, April 12: The Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS)-led state government will meet with all relevant stakeholders, including legal advisors, starting this week on how to fix the many grey areas and loopholes in the Federal Constitution.

This is with the hope that it could be addressed in the proposed amendment of the Federal Constitution, which it hoped the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government will table in Parliament.

“If we want to fix this, let’s do it right the first time and eliminate all the loopholes and grey areas before we pass the final bill in July,” said GPS Parliamentary whip Dato Sri Fadillah Yusof in a statement today.

The Petra Jaya MP pointed out that the original wording of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and the draft bill could be further improved and strengthened.

Attached is a table to the statement that explains which clauses of the current bill that GPS wants amended and why this is necessary so that the people understands their concerns and sincerity.

“We are not asking for more than we are entitled to in the MA63, but merely to strengthen and resolve any possible loopholes in order to better protect our interests. The Federal Constitution was drafted more than half a century ago. Things have changed since then and you cannot expect it to be a perfect document without loopholes.

“From experience over the years, we have encountered many grey areas and loopholes such as found in Article 161A(7). The list of races which are indigenous to Sarawak does not include Ibans, Bidayuhs or even Lun Bawang.

“Even the definition of ‘Malaysia Day’ is missing in the Constitution’s current form. That is why we seek to amend the draft bill to account for these and other weaknesses,” he said.

Fadillah also revealed why GPS MPs abstained from voting the Bill when it was tabled in Parliament on April 9.

“We abstained from voting from the bill. We did not reject the bill. We abstained because while we want the bill to be passed, we feel that it can be improved.

“The failure of the bill to be passed is not the end of story or end of the line. I trust in the sincerity of the federal government that they will table the bill again with the amendments we sought.

“We have waited so many decades for this bill. Surely, we can wait three more months until the next parliament sitting for a revised bill to be tabled?” he asked.

Fadillah said there were many who were disappointed that the bill to restore the original wording of Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution did not pass last week.

“Several have started pointing figures and finding fault due to this disappointment. However, when it comes to restoring Sabah and Sarawak’s rights and protecting our joint interests to its fullest, there shall be no compromise.

“When it comes to Sabah’s and Sarawak’s rights, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk VK Liew is not our enemy. Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumers’ Affair Chong Chieng Jen is not our enemy and Works Baru Bian is not our enemy.

“No one is more passionate about this than us here in GPS. And we are well aware that we will face a big political backlash from those who may not understand the issue or do not understand our passion and resolve for Sarawak rights.

“No one should question that we at GPS love Sarawak more. That is why we stood firm even though we know there would be a certain political backlash,” he explained.

Fadillah said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg had indeed agreed in principle for the amendment.

“But the keyword is ‘principle’. The devil is in the details,” he asserted. — DayakDaily