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By Karen Bong
KUCHING, June 6: Tan Sri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar has expressed his gratitude upon being honoured with the prestigious Darjah Kebesaran Panglima Setia Mahkota (PSM) award as it represents a significant recognition for his extensive contributions to the nation.
The former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law was among 839 recipients of the Federal awards, honours and medals in conjunction with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s birthday yesterday (June 5).
“It was a very high honour and recognition given to me. I am forever grateful to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for bestowing me with the award and especially to Premier of Sarawak (Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg) for recommending me for the award.
“More importantly, I am truly grateful to the Premier for giving me the strength that has enabled me to achieve many things for Malaysia and Sarawak in particular,” he said when contacted by DayakDaily today.
With an impressive political career spanning 42 years, including 32 years as a member of Parliament (MP), Wan Junaidi regarded the recognition of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) in the Federal Constitution as one of his most significant achievements and contributions.
“As the Minister of Law and although only for 30 months, I was the first minister to have amended the Constitution four times since (Malaysia’s independence) in 1957.
“The year 2021 was historical as we successfully incorporated MA63 into the Federal Constitution, effectively establishing the rightful positions of Sarawak and Sabah within the Federation as originally envisioned in the Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) Report, which could not be done in the last 58 years since 1963.
“The Constitution should have been amended to include MA63, just like putting in the 1948 agreement, Pangkor Agreement, Straits Settlement Agreement, the 1957 agreement,” he said.
The accomplishment of these monumental tasks was not without personal struggles. Wan Junaidi made numerous visits to Sabah and worked closely with Abang Johari and the leaders at the Attorney-General (AG) Chamber of Sarawak, and ensuring all MPs including those from Sarawak, fully comprehended the significance of these constitutional amendments.
“My biggest motivator was the Premier and staff at the AG Chambers of Sarawak. He (Abang Johari) was so well verse in the subject. I am truly grateful,” he added.
In addition, Wan Junaidi also played a pivotal role in amending Article 161 of the Constitution, granting Sarawak the authority to determine the criteria for individuals to be recognised as natives in the State.
This amendment empowers Sarawak to make autonomous decisions regarding native identification, ensuring that the State can preserve its unique cultural heritage and protect the rights of its indigenous communities.
Among the pivotal matters close to the hearts of Malaysians, Wan Junaidi highlighted the implementation of Undi18 (voting age of 18), which required constitutional amendments to enable automatic voter registration.
This was followed by the success in amending all necessary rules and in ensuring the realisation of Undi18 by December 2021.
Furthermore, Wan Junaidi championed the introduction of an anti-hopping law which received significant support from Sarawak. This legislation aims to address the issue of political party defections, preventing elected representatives from switching parties arbitrarily, among others.
“However, there are more things that needed to be repealed which I have briefed Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim personally, especially the need to review and modernise the very outdated insolvency law of Malaysia to meet needs of the country, apart from protecting the nation’s sovereignty such as the Sulu matter,” Wan Junaidi said.
Expressing his immense happiness and gratitude, Wan Junaidi extended his appreciation to the diverse communities and individuals who supported him throughout his journey.
“From near and far, people from all walks of life, transcending racial boundaries, have given me their support and showered me with congratulations, well-wishes, and prayers since yesterday. I am really grateful,” he concluded. — DayakDaily