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MIRI, Sept 17: Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) welcomes the announcement by Prime Minister Dato Sri Ismail Sabri Yaakob in Sabah yesterday, that the federal government promises to look after the interests of Sarawak and Sabah, and continue to resolve remaining issues related to Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
SUPP secretary-general Datuk Sebastian Ting Chiew Yew, in stating this, expressed hope that the federal government will walk the talk.
“We hope the federal government through its MA63 Special Council chaired by the Prime Minister himself, will accept the proposed comprehensive amendments to the Federal Constitution unanimously passed by our DUN (State Legislative Assembly) on 30th April 2019,” he said.
On April 30, 2019, Sarawak DUN had unanimously passed a motion moved by de facto State Law Minister Datuk Sharifah Hasidah and seconded by Assistant Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Sebastian Ting for comprehensive amendment to the Federal Constitution.
The proposed amendment included addition of the sentence “pursuant to Malaysia Agreement 1963” in Article 1(2) to revert back Sarawak and Sabah statuses as separate entity, and not lump together with the States of Malaya.
At the same time, it was also proposed that Article 160(2) be amended to redefine “the Federation” as the Federation established under MA63 signed on July 9, 1963, and not the Malaya Agreement 1957.
“The key thing here is for MA63 to be recognized by the Federal Constitution, the supreme law of the land, for any future discussions to restore or reclaim Sarawak’s eroded rights,” Ting said in a statement today.
On amendment to Article 95B to stop federal government from amending the State List and Concurrent List in the Ninth Schedule or any matter not already in any of the Lists without first seeking consent from Sarawak DUN, he said it will help to prevent further erosion of legislative and executive powers of the State, which had happened in the past where Parliament without prior consultation with Sarawak, altered or amended the Legislative Lists.
Regarding amendment to transfer “Tourism” matters from Item 25A in the Federal List to be listed in Concurrent List and “Environment” matter to be placed in Supplement to the Concurrent List for Sabah and Sarawak, it will give more power to Sarawak government to better manage its tourism and environment to protect the interests of Sarawak and its people.
“Apart from tourism and environment, we also would like to propose that education and health matters to be placed under State Lists for Sarawak so we can have separate improved education and health system tailored to the needs of our people.
“Of course, the federal government is to provide the annual funding for the management of these two matters by the state government,” Ting said.
Another important amendment is to Article 85A so that State lands given to federal government for federal purpose, to be returned back to Sarawak government if unused.
In this case, federal government also cannot dispose the land or use the land for another federal purpose without the consent of the Sarawak government.
“We hope all these crucial amendments to the Federal Constitution can be quickly agreed, tabled and passed by the Parliament smoothly to safeguard the legislative and executive powers of Sarawak, sources of revenues and financial autonomy assigned for Sarawak,” he added. — Dayakdaily