“We cannot support a constitutional amendment Bill that is ‘hollow’ ’’

Datuk Idris Buang

KUCHING, April 8: The proposed amendment to the Federal Constitution’s Article 1(2) should contain the long list of Sarawak’s rights that the state had presented in the Steering Committee.

That is the stand of Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), the backbone of the ruling Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS).

Its information chief, Datuk Idris Buang, said these areas include equitable parliamentary seats, which Sarawakian representatives in the Steering Committee hope their Pakatan Harapan (PH) counterparts in the committee would look into as it was not included in the proposed Bill that was tabled for first reading on April 4.

“Chong (Chieng Jen, PH Sarawak chief-cum-Stampin MP) should refer to that long list of claims presented by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg and his Sarawak government delegation in the Steering Committee.

“In there is a litany of things that need to be responded to by the federal government with honesty and sincerity.

“It includes, inter alia, Sarawak’s firm stand on non-negotiable matters pertaining to its rights under the MA63 with regards to land, continental shelf, natural resources, including oil and gas, mining rights, the financial review of Special Grant and Capitation Grant, and many more,” said Idris in a statement today.

In addition, both Sarawak and Sabah need to be equitably allocated their share of parliamentary seats left by Singapore when the latter exited Malaysia in 1965.

He emphasised that all these needed to be addressed.

“We cannot jump to just address Article 1(2) and in the manner it is half-heartedly done while leaving the Steering and Technical Committee in a lull or limbo over its more serious but incomplete business.

“Surely these items entail amendments to the Constitution too, and which, in real terms, must go along with the amendment to Article 1(2) in order to give the whole exercise to review our rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) a more meaningful purpose.

“Therefore, this amendment proposal is not only unprofessional but also dubious in that it gives a false sense of security to the people of Sarawak and Sabah.”

Idris was referring to Chong’s (who is also Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs) latest statement calling on GPS to support the Bill during its second reading, scheduled for tomorrow, as “Sarawak and Sabah have nothing to lose”.

Chong said the proposed amendment sought to restructure the position of the states in Malaysia and make it right by restoring the status of Sarawak and Sabah back to their position under the original constitution before the 1976 amendment.

“That is the structure we are looking at. So, my call to GPS is to put aside their ego and pride for the benefit of the Sarawak people. This is a restoration of the status of Sarawak and Sabah in line with the original Federal Constitution,” said Chong at a press conference in Kuching yesterday.

Responding to this, Idris said what Abang Johari presented to the Steering Committee had contained substantially what the people of Sarawak really wanted because it incorporated the views of the Sarawak State Assembly Consultative Committee, which comprises lawmakers from both political divides.

Idris also reiterated that there was nothing in the Bill that says that Sarawak and Sabah were given back their respective status as “equal party or equal partner”.

“We cannot blindly support a constitutional amendment Bill, especially like this one, which, in all respects, is a ‘hollow’ one.

“By its very wording, tell us what benefit does it bring to Sarawak and Sabah? Where does it say or even imply that Sarawak and Sabah are being given their respective “equal party or equal partner” status to the MA63?”

Idris said Sarawak PH MPs should be sincere and stop “playing safe”. They should tell their leaders in Peninsular Malaysia to do the same.

“Say what he (Chong) likes to suit his political love for rhetorics, this proposed Bill is just nothing but camouflage … something that looks like a lovely fresh boiled egg when, in reality, it is just an empty hopeless piece of shell,” said Idris. — DayakDaily