Women lawmakers air issues on Article 1(2) in evening with media

Nancy (centre), flanked by Rohani and Rubiah (right), addressing the media.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, April 26: Women lawmakers from Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) spent an evening with the local media on Friday to share about the state ruling coalition’s stand on the Constitutional amendment bill.

Batang Sadong MP Datuk Nancy Shukri, Batang Lupar MP Dato Sri Rohani Abdul Karim and Samarahan MP Rubiah Wang were present for the rendezvous at a hotel here.

Mukah MP Datuk Hanifah Hajar Taib, who was also scheduled to join the event, was unable to attend due to an official duty.

Besides sharing on what ensued in the tabling of the Bill to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution in Parliament on April 9, they took the opportunity to strengthen ties with members of the media.

Touching on the bill, which was not passed for failing to garner two thirds of the votes in the Dewan Rakyat, Nancy said it should not be bulldozed just yet.

Commenting on the weaknesses that led the bill to be defeated, she said the draft could have been done intentionally or unintentionally to not favour Sabah and Sarawak due to different perspectives.

“This means more negotiations and discussions among the experts and stakeholders are needed to study this thoroughly and come out with a proper findings.

“GPS will not take the risk to vote for the bill first because we don’t want to be victims of circumstances which later many things can be denied or not complied to,” she explaine

She also made reference to the recent case on the relocation of the Registry of the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak from Kuching to Kota Kinabalu, which was done unconstitutionally.

On GPS being blamed for downgrading the Sarawak status due to the failure of the bill, Nancy rebutted the accusations and stressed that the special rights and autonomy of Sarawak were enshrined in the Federal Constitution.

“Did you realise that of all states in Malaysia, only Sarawak and Sabah, a chief minister leads the governance structure with Cabinet ministers?” she pointed out.

She continued; “While Penang and Melaka have their respective chief ministers, they only have exco instead of a Cabinet. So don’t be fooled by claims that Sarawak status has been downgraded.”

Nancy added that eroded rights did not mean Sarawak have no more rights because they were already enshrined the Federal Constitution but it was more of a compliance issue.

“This is why we demanded for the words ‘Pursuant to Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63)’ in the amendment bill and that the IGC Report be read together so they have the force of law. Not just a piece of paper without details and definitions.”

Meanwhile, Rohani said GPS’ fight to restore what rightfully belonged to Sarawak has begun since Tok Nan’s (the late chief minister Pehin Sri Adenan Satem) time through talks on the devolution of power with Putrajaya.

For those who questioned why the state government did not proposed this in Parliament when Barisan Nasional (BN) was the ruling government, she said the state government doubted they will have the required two-thirds majority for the bill to pass.

“We have discussed about this for years in the past but we realised the possibility was not there or else it will failed like the proposed 2019 amendment bill. As such, we took the other way through negotiation of devolution of power,” she added.

Rubiah, who echoed the views of both Nancy and Rohani, stressed that all decisions must be taken in the best interests of Sarawak and her people.

“We only asked for negotiations to continue and for an in depth study of the whole matter by respecting and taking in Sarawak views before coming out with the bill to be tabled to make the amendments,” she said. — DayakDaily