Timing of GPS’ objection to Article 160 definition of ‘federation’ questioned

Iswardy Morni

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KUCHING, April 29: The definition of ‘Federation’ as provided in Article 160 of the Federal Constitution was never disputed for nearly 50 years after Independence, so why only now is Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) raising this issue?

This was the question posed by Pro Reformist 98 Sarawak chairman Iswardy Morni to Muara Tuang assemblyman Datuk Idris Buang yesterday.

“Now we have to be clear. According to the Malaysia Bill, there was no amendment to the word ‘federation’. It was not even done here,” he told the 700-strong crowd attending the forum and debate titled ‘Should Sarawakians support the Amendment to Federal Constitution 1(2) Bill as tabled in Parliament on April 9, 2019, in light of Malaysia Agreement (MA63)?’ organised by DayakDaily at the Kuching Civic Centre here.

He stressed that the definition was never amended after the formation of Malaysia in 1963 as well as after 1976 when the Federal Constitution was again amended.

“So why now? It is not like only yesterday Pakatan Harapan (PH) took over as ruling goverrnment then wanted to amend this. In fact Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has already answered as to why there were two federations – with one general definition and one specific definition,” Iswardy said.

“We have to understand. There were two federations – one before 1963 and another after 1963. Before 1963, there was Tanah Melayu (Malaya). That is why pursuant to this, there are many laws which still touched on the laws before 1957 such as Article 163 on inheritance of property before Independence as well as Article 172 on liability rights. All these will be referred to Article 160(2),” he added.

However, he pointed out that the definition in general after 1963 was referred to Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution.

“That is why we have to realise that we are not here standing alone. They were countries and states before Malaysia in 1963. Before 1963, there was Federation of Malaya. We have our rights and we have to respect their rights as well,” he pressed.

He urged GPS lawmakers to look closely at the Federal Constitution which, he said, was created by intelligent people who really knew the law and reiterated that the word ‘federation’ has been there since 1967 until now.

“Why was it not amended? Why now then GPS raised this issue? Only until 2012 then you voiced out. And you had until 2018 to voice out all this (under Barisan Nasional) but why was it not amended? That is my question. You (GPS) were there on the government side while the PH at that time was the opposition,” he questioned.

Iswardy then pointed out that it was crucial now to give Sarawak the rights first, to give Sarawak the right name or status of equal partner first, before taking back all the rights belonging to Sarawak.

“I am all yours and I am with GPS on this in taking back Sarawak rights but get the name right first that we are equal partners and not one of the 13 states (in Malaysia),” he added. — DayakDaily