Ting elated over passing of bill to lower minimum age for elected reps

Datuk Sebastian Ting

By Jaythaleela K

MIRI, 12 Nov: Sarawak United Peoples’ Party Sec-Genaral, Datuk Sebastian Ting Chiew Yew expressed delight over the passing of the Constitution of the State of Sarawak (Amendment) Bill, 2020 in the Dewan Undangan Negeri today and said it is a very important amendment to Sarawak’s Constitution because it lowers the age of persons from 21 years old to 18 years old to be qualified to be elected as an elected member of the Dewan Undangan Negeri and to restrict non-Sarawakian from contesting in State Election.

“Nowadays, the younger generations are more educated and more well-informed at a very young age mainly because of the wide access of knowledge available for them from the institution of higher learning, learning centres and the internet,” he said in a statement.

“It was the intention of the Sarawak Government to table the Constitution of the State of Sarawak (Amendment) Bill, 2020 to tighten the qualification of a person offering as a candidate in Sarawak election and this will further strengthen the sovereignty of our Dewan Undangan Negeri,” he opined.

He pointed out that it is a good thing for Sarawak to allow more young Sarawakians to be representatives in the DUN as they may bring in more different, vibrant and dynamic outlook in the process of law and policymaking.

“Our present Article 16 of Sarawak State Constitution does not specifically define who is qualified as “resident in the State” to be elected as a member of the Dewan Undangan Negeri,” he pointed out.

This shortcoming leaves room for interpretation that a person from another state who has been taking a stay or residency in Sarawak for a few weeks can argue that he is a resident of Sarawak and as such qualified to contest and be elected as a member of the Dewan Undangan Negeri, Ting said.

“SUPP strongly feels that this is wrong, most Sarawakians will not and can not accept a non-Sarawakian as a representative in our Sarawak legislative body. Sarawak must be governed by our own Sarawakians, not by people from Semenanjung and Sabah,”he explained.

“With the passing of Constitution of the State of Sarawak (Amendment) Bill, 2020 today, we are putting to an end of any room for interpretation that may lead to non-Sarawakian contesting in our State Election,” he added.

According to the Constitution of the State of Sarawak (Amendment), Bill just passed today, anyone who wishes to contest in Sarawak State Election, he must be born in Sarawak holding a Malaysian citizen where his parents or either of them was also born in Sarawak and he is normally resident in Sarawak. (Article 16 (2)(2)(a)(i)and (ii).

For Sarawakians born outside of Sarawak holding a Malaysian citizen passport with either one of his parents born in Sarawak and is normally resident in Sarawak are also eligible to contest in our State Election. (Article 16 (2)(2)(b).

“With this amendment to our State Constitution, it is now likely that DAP, PKR, UMNO, and PAS will not be able to field non-Sarawakian to contest in our Sarawak election. In this way, people of Sarawak will ensure that Sarawak will continue to be governed by true and loyal Sarawakians,” he said.

At this juncture, we wish to note that during the voting of the passing of the proposed Constitution Amendments Bill, there were 9 Honourable Members from the Opposition who did not support and indeed voted against the proposed amendments particularly to restrict non-Sarawakian from contesting in our State Election. Ultimately, it is up to the people of Sarawak to judge.

“With the passing of these amendments to our State Constitution, we should now seriously consider reviewing all our existing Sarawak Ordinances to remove inconsistency, if any, and in particular our Advocates Ordinance 1953 (Chapter 110) Section 2(2)(a), (b) and (c) with the view and intention to protect the best interest of all Sarawakians.”

Ting added that the Gabungan Parti Sarawak ( GPS ) government has always and shall continue to put Sarawak and the wellbeing of the people first.

“We will continue to amend or repeal any law that is not at the interest of our people. The interests of our Sarawak must always come first in GPS,” he concluded. – DayakDaily