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Thursday, April 4, 2019

Amendment Bill on Article 1(2) considered hollow, activist says it's merely 'cosmetic'

KOTA KINABALU: A Bill to amend the federal Constitution to make Sabah, Sarawak and the peninsula equal partners has been described as “cosmetic” by Sabah rights advocate Tengku Fuad Tengku Ahmad.

He said the proposed amendment tabled in Parliament by de facto Law Minister Datuk V.K. Liew earlier Thursday (April 4) on Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution was inadequate as it does not put the status of Sabah and Sarawak back in its real form.

“It does not materially change the meaning or substance of the Article in its present form (where Sabah and Sarawak are one of 13 states in Malaysia),” he said.

“When interpreting a constitutional provision, the structure of an Article is as important as the words it contains. This is because one can discern the meaning, intention and purpose of a constitutional provision from the way it is set out and how certain words or sections are emphasised,” he said in a statement.

So in the case of Article 1(2), he said, it was important that any amendment reflects that the Federation of Malaysia comprised three nation-states, namely, Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak.

This can be achieved by clearly categorising Sabah, Sarawak and Malaya as the three constituent parts which, when federated under the Constitution, form Malaysia, he said.

Fuad said it reflects the intention of the framers in that Sabah, Sarawak and Malaya are federated to form Malaysia.

“This also sets the stage for future amendments aimed at restoring Sabah and Sarawak rights in accordance with the obligations, guarantees and safeguards contained in the Malaysia Agreement 1963,” added Fuad.

He said the amendment tabled is not substantive as Article 1(2) should set the scene on which the entire plotline is based as it must reflect three parts of the nation, not 11 states plus two states.

“It is a disgrace after all of the hype and promises,” he added.

Sabah and Sarawak were known as “Negara” but were downgraded to one of the 13 states through an amendment of the Constitution in 1976. - Star Online

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