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By Karen Bong
KUCHING, Feb 15: Amending the Sarawak Constitution is the beginning for subsequent assertions of Sarawak’s rights, privilege and autonomy, including changing the designation of Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) to “Sarawak Parliament”.
Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) president Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian, in pointing this out, urged Democratic Action Party (DAP) to stop misleading the people of Sarawak that the change in the designation or title of ‘Chief Minister’ to ‘Premier’ was redundant.
He opined that DAP strongly opposed the amendment to change of title because they were worried it would show up DAP Penang as second-class.
“If the change in name has no difference, then why not call (Chong) president of DAP Sarawak (instead of chairman)? Takut (scared)….,” he said at a press conference at the media room of the DUN Complex today.
Once the title is set right, Dr Sim emphasised that Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg’s status will be given its due respect (that is, Sarawak will be seen to be elevated to an equal partner in Malaysia) for him to go and demand for all the changes to come.
“Today’s Constitutional amendment is important as it is the beginning of our subsequent assertion of rights, privileges, autonomy and so on to come.
“It is a very historical day and significant milestone for Sarawak as we do not often have a Constitution amendment,” he said.
The Batu Kawah assemblyman also reiterated Bukit Assek assemblyman Joseph Chieng’s point which was raised during the debate of the Bill where he quoted Confucian idiom “ming bu zheng, yan bu shun”, meaning “if the name or title is not correctly worded, the words said will not carry weight or make sense” which in turn makes it impossible to accomplish tasks.
The Sarawak Constitution amendment, he elaborated, was consequential as a result of the Federal Constitution amendment related to Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) which was passed in Parliament in December 2021 and came into force on Feb 11, 2022.
“It shows the GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak) government and SUPP (Sarawak United Peoples’ Party) are seriously keeping up with the ‘Sarawak First’ slogan and following things through as fast as we can. This proposed amendment bill is part of MA63.
“The amendment also reflects Sarawak’s political independence as Sarawak is no longer part of the national coalition since 2018, otherwise it would be ‘Malaysia First’,” he said.
Had there been no change in government, Dr Sim opined Sarawak would not have moved forward at such a fast pace but would still be stuck in court over the State Sales Tax (SST) issue concerning petroleum resources. He asserted members of DAP and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) did not even dare to say a word over the matter.
“Even though I was not in the MA63 Committee, I learned that members of DAP and PKR Sarawak did not even dare to say anything when (then prime minister of Pakatan Harapan government) (Tun Dr) Mahathir (Mohamad) chaired the meeting. The people of Sarawak would have lost RM3 billion a year in SST.
“I urged some DAP members to wake up and stop misleading the people of Sarawak. The people have told them clearly that they don’t want to support them. So if they still don’t wake up, there will be no more DAP Sarawak,” he added.
On the designation of Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Sim explained that it will follow suit to be redesignated as “Deputy Premier” and there was no need to table another bill to make the amendment as the Constitution did not mention the designation of Deputy Chief Minister.
“At present, the cabinet comprises 10 ministers plus one Chief Minister. It is already in the Constitution. It is the prerogative of the ‘Premier’ to appoint the deputy(ies).
“But as the Constitution spelt out ‘Assistant Minister’, so there was a need to make the amendment (to change t to ‘Deputy Minister’),” he said. — DayakDaily