‘Today, we woke up with Sarawak still remaining one of the 13 states in Malaysia, thanks to GPS’

Chong Chieng Jen

KUCHING, April 10: By defeating the Constitution Amendment Bill, Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) has succeeded in embarrassing the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government, but at the expense of Sarawak and Sabah.

Democratic Action Party (DAP) Sarawak chairman Chong Chieng Jen highlighted this in a press statement following the failure of the Bill to be passed in Parliament last night.

He said GPS might have achieved its political interest, but it has again done great injustice to Sarawakians.

“The amendment Bill proposed by PH government in Parliament yesterday was exactly the same as the version of 1963 Constitution, word for word.

“It is the most direct step to restore Sabah and Sarawak to its original position in the Federation when we formed Malaysia in 1963,” he said.

The wording of Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution in 1963 are as follows:

“The States of the Federation shall be –
(a) The States of Malaya, namely, Johore, Kedah, Kelantan, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Pahang, Penang, Perak, Perlis, Selangor and Terengganu; and
(b) The Borneo States, namely, Sabah and Sarawak; and
(c) the State of Singapore.”

In 1976, the Barisan National (BN) government amended Article 1(2) to the following:
“The State of the Federation shall be Johore, Kedah, Kelantan, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Pahang, Penang, Perak, Perlis, Sabah, Sarawak, Selangor and Terengganu.”

In the second reading of the amendment yesterday, the wording of Article 1(2) is as follows:

“The States of the Federation shall be –
(a) The States of Malaya, namely, Johore, Kedah, Kelantan, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Pahang, Penang, Perak, Perlis, Selangor and Terengganu; and
(b) The Borneo States, namely, Sabah and Sarawak.

Chong, who is also Deputy Minister for Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, revealed that except for one Umno MP from Sabah (Dato Sri Bung Mokhtar Radin), all Sabah MPs, including the independent Sabah MPs, supported the Bill.

“The Chief Minister of Sabah (Datuk Seri Mohd) Shafie Apdal came to Parliament to speak in support of and voted for the Bill,” he said.

“On the other hand, GPS abstained from voting. By doing so, GPS is, in fact, voting against the Bill because, for any constitutional amendment bill to be passed, it requires two-thirds of the number of MPs in the House to vote ‘yes’.”

Therefore, when the government could not get 148 votes (which is two-thirds of 222) in support of the Bill, the Bill was defeated.

In the whole debate and voting process of the Bill in Parliament last night, Chong said he observed that GPS was seen to be working closely with Umno and Pas.

“They also have the vested interest to see to it that the PH government be embarrassed so as to undermine the authority of the PH government,” he said.

Chong said that for GPS to go along with Umno and Pas on this issue was absolutely shocking.

“It only goes to show that, though GPS is now out of BN, it is still working closely with Umno and now Pas, even at the expense of Sarawak’s interest,” he said.

The PH government may have suffered the embarrassment of having its Bill defeated, but he stressed that what was more disheartening was that Sarawak lost a golden opportunity to put right the wrong that was inflicted upon Sarawak 43 years ago.

“It is, thus, the doing of GPS that today we wake up with Sarawak still remaining one of the 13 states in Malaysia.

“The parties in GPS has done it once in 1976 together with Umno to reduce Sarawak’s status to one of the 13 states in Malaysia. Forty-three years later, GPS has again co-operated with Umno to ensure Sarawak remains the status of one of the 13 states in Malaysia,” he added. — DayakDaily