Previously banned, Sarawak group to resume Malaysia Agreement advocacy

KUCHING, Jan 14 — Sarawak Association for People’s Aspirations (Sapa) today said it will resume educating the people on the state’s rights enshrined in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

The group said it will hold a series of seminars this year — something it did before it was declared an illegal society in 2014.

“We also hope to join hands and cooperate with all like-minded groups and organizations to hold such activities and to push for the return of Sarawak’s rights,” its newly elected president Dominique Ng Kim Ho told reporters.

He stressed Sapa will remain strictly apolitical so as to group together the broadest spectrum of the people of Sarawak.

Sapa held its annual general meeting yesterday, the first after it was declared as an illegal society under Section 5(1) of the Societies Act 1966 by the Home Ministry in November 14, 2014.

The ministry had deemed Sapa’s activities in carrying out seminars on MA63 and state’s rights all over the state to be contrary to existing laws in the interest of national security and public order.

With Sapa being declared an illegal organisation, the ministry barred anyone from using its name, symbol, crest or logo based on Section 7(3)(b) of the Societies Act.

The then Sapa president Lina Soo, with Ng as the lawyer, took court action against the Home Ministry and the federal government for declaring Sapa an illegal organisation.

The High Court then quashed the ministerial decision, saying that it was unconstitutional and unlawful, and it was upheld the Court of Appeal.

The appeal by the federal government to the Federal Court was later withdrawn by the new Pakatan Harapan government on July 18, 2018.

State’s rights activist Hugh Lawrence Zehnder was elected deputy president, lawyers Nurul Hidayah Abu Bakar and Stephanie Liu as secretary and assistant secretary respectively.

The post of treasurer went to David Chow and assistant treasurer to Gideon Chong.

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