KUCHING, March 16 — Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg today said that Sarawak will be a territory only after the Federal Constitution has been amended.
“When an amendment to the constitution is done, then it is consequential. We will not be a state anymore, but a territory after the amendment,” he told reporters after officiating at the Sarawak Career and Training Fair (SCaT Fair) 2019 here.
He was responding to a post on social media claiming that the recent meeting of the Special Federal Cabinet Committee on the review of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 had decided that Sarawak was no longer called a state, but a territory with immediate effect.
De facto Law Minister Datuk Liew Vui Kiong had recently said a Bill would be tabled in Parliament during the current session to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution to restore the status of both Sarawak and Sabah as equal partners to Malaya in the Federation of Malaysia.
The 1976 amendment to the original Article reduced the status of Sarawak and Sabah to among the 13 states in Malaysia.
On another matter, the chief minister said the state government will leave it to the federal government and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency to settle sea border disputes between Sarawak and Indonesia.
“The dispute is an international matter so we let the federal government handle it with the Indonesian government,” he said.
He was asked on the detention of a Sarawakian fishing vessel, with three crew members and 11 anglers, by the Indonesian Navy recently.
They were detained some 52 nautical miles from Tanjung Datu at the southern tip of Sarawak for allegedly encroaching into the Indonesian territorial waters.
However, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency disputed the Indonesian claim, saying that the vessel was detained within the Malaysian waters.
The vessel was later released by the Indonesian Navy and all the 14 men arrived home yesterday.