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Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Sarawak opposition leader: Amendment to constitution raises more questions

KUCHING - An opposition leader has warned that the proposed amendment to Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution to restore the status of Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners with the peninsula will only trigger more questions about the Bornean states.

Sarawak United People’s Party Youth chief Michael Tiang added that it would only make those in Sabah and Sarawak more unhappy and discontented.

“De facto law minister Liew Vui Keong has no idea what sort of situation he has put himself in,” he said.

“He keeps saying the amendment will help restore the status of Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners with Peninsular Malaysia, but I can’t find the words ‘equal partners’ in the Pakatan Harapan manifesto.”

Tiang told FMT that the manifesto only mentions “returning Sabah and Sarawak to the status accorded by the Malaysia Agreement 1963”. He questioned the extent of equal status Sarawak would receive.

“Does it mean that they (Putrajaya) will have to divide parliamentary seats fairly, based on Article 46 of the Federal Constitution?” he asked.

When Malaysia was formed in 1963, he said, Malaya had a total of 104 seats, Sabah 16, Sarawak 24 and Singapore 15.

“Currently, Malaya has a total of 166 seats, Sabah 25 seats and Sarawak 31 seats. What happened to Singapore’s seats after it left Malaysia?”

Questioning Putrajaya’s sincerity regarding Sabah and Sarawak, he claimed the consent of the two states was not obtained when they were made part of Malaysia.

“The amendment to Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution in 1976 was done unconstitutionally because consent was never obtained from Sabah and Sarawak through their legislative assemblies.

“Now, they’re asking the MPs to vote on the amendment to Article 1(2). How is that possible?”

Based on the Hansard in 1976, Tiang said, not many MPs had taken part in the debate on the amendment of Article 1(2), “not even DAP leaders”.

“In 1976, DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang did not support the bill due to the restricted residences order. It was not on the amendment of Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution in particular.”

Tiang said the federal government knew at that time it had to amend Article 1(2) because it was aware that the status between Malaya and Sabah and Sarawak was not on par.

“The original text must have given Sabah and Sarawak a different status because MPs at that point of time kept mentioning the amendment would put us all on par.

By Larissa Lumandan

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