KUCHING, March 10 — Sarawak Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman Chong Chieng Jen today expressed his confidence that a Bill to restore Sarawak’s status to its pre-1976 original position as an equal partner to Malaya will be passed in Parliament, only if 19 Members of Parliament from Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) give their support.
He said the Pakatan Harapan (PH) federal government needs only 13 MPs to reach the mandatory two-thirds of the total number in Parliament for the Bill to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution to be passed.
“Currently, PH has 135 MPs out of the total 222 in Parliament, and with the support of 19 MPs from GPS and Sabah Umno, there will be more than 148 MPs,” Chong told reporters.
He also asked GPS not to cast doubt on the draft of the Bill, but instead give their firm support.
“The Bill will be laid on the table for them to read and study so they should not have doubts of its contents, but to give their support,” he said, referring to comments made by GPS secretary general Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi, who is also Kapit MP, and Petrajaya MP Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof.
The two MPs have made it clear that they will support the Bill only if it gives the deal for Sarawak and Sarawakians.
They had said they want to read the Bill thoroughly first if it really restores Sarawak’s position to its original status.
Chong said it will be an embarrassment for the PH government and a sad day for Sarawakians if the Bill fails to be passed in Parliament.
He said the decision to amend Article 1(2) of the Constitution shows the sincerity of the PH federal government to accord Sarawak and Sabah their original positions in the Federation of Malaysia.
Chong, who is also the deputy minister of domestic trade and consumer affairs, said the Bill to amend the Constitution is expected to be debated and be put to the vote after the completion of the debate on the Royal Address.
The status of the two Borneo states was downgraded from equal partners to Malaya to among the 13 states in Malaysia following amendments to Article 1(2) of the Constitution in 1976.
The Dewan Rakyat starts its session tomorrow and it will sit for five weeks.