KUCHING, April 3 — Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu (PBB) vice president Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said today it was strange that a Bill to amend the Federal Constitution has not been sent for parliamentarians to study.
He said he did not understand the delay as the matter will reach Parliament in under a week.
“If you give it today, and tomorrow it is going to be debated, how do you expect the MPs to make good preparation for their debate?” he asked at a press conference which was held after chairing the state tourism steering committee meeting here.
“We don’t want to support the Bill blindly or be pressured to give our support when we don’t even have time to go through it,” he said.
He claimed it was abnormal for a Bill to be unavailable to MPs with less than a week to the first reading, disputing Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii, who said otherwise.
He said Yii was inexperienced and did not know the procedures.
Karim, who is also the state tourism, arts, culture, youth and sports minister, said in the case of the Sarawak State Assembly, a Bill is normally distributed at least a week or even two weeks so the state assemblymen could go through its provisions.
“In Parliament, if amendments are related to the Federal Constitution, which require the support of two-thirds of the total number of parliamentarians to go through, and in this case, it relates to the formation of Malaysia, I feel all Members of Parliament should be given time to read the provisions of the Bill thoroughly.
“Only then they have ample time to prepare for their debates,” he said.
Karim asserted that he does not want Sarawak to be tricked again, after Article 1 of the Federal Constitution was amended in 1976 to downgrade Sarawak’s status from an equal partner to Malaya to one of the 13 states in Malaysia.
He urged MPs from Sarawak Pakatan Harapan (PH) to unite with Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) in protecting the interest of Sarawak, especially on amendments to the Federal Constitution.
Karim said Sarawak PH should not blame the present GPS leaders for what happened in 1976 for the support given by the past Members of Parliament from Sarawak for the change in status.
“I don’t want to dwell on the past mistakes of our forefathers. At that moment of time, the scenario might be different. We just went through May 13 racial riot, or perhaps, their knowledge on issues was not deep enough or that they were not farsighted enough on the implications in the downgrading of the status.
“But for them (Sarawak PH) to blame the present GPS leaders because of the mistakes of the past leaders is not fair,” he said.
“We have to accept the fact that things were done a long time ago, which we may not agree now. For example, the issues on oil and gas in Sarawak,” he said.