KUCHING, April 5 — Sarawak DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen today explained that the amendment to Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution is to set the right legal framework for Sabah and Sarawak to achieve their desired status in Malaysia.
He said the amendment, tabled by de facto Law Minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong in Parliament yesterday, is also in line with the original structure in the Federal Constitution with the two states in a separate category from the other 11 states in the peninsula.
“It puts Sabah and Sarawak on the correct platform envisaged by our forefathers when Malaysia was formed,” he said when defending the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government’s decision against criticisms by Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) and Sarawak Reform Party (STAR) that the amendment failed to restore the status of Sarawak and Sabah on equal term with Malaya.
Chong, who is also the Stampin Member of Parliament, said that the amendment is only a starting point in the continuous process of devolution of powers and reinstating Sabah and Sarawak’s equal standing.
He said the Special Steering Committee and Technical Committee on the review of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) will still continue with their meetings and discussions on the devolution of powers.
“Surely, from Sarawak’s perspective, the present amendment is an improvement to the 1976 version of the Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution.
“As such, if GPS sincerely has the interest of Sarawak in mind, there is no reason to oppose,” he said, adding that PH had within a year of taking over the government taken steps to remedy the injustice done to Sarawak and Sabah by the previous Barisan Nasional government.
He urged GPS Members of Parliament to rethink their position, put aside their ego and pride and support the amendment Bill.
He reminded the GPS lawmakers that the amendment is the first step towards restoring Sarawak’s position and legal status to the position at the time of the formation of Malaysia.
“The structure of Article 1(2) of the Constitution in the 2019 proposed amendment is exactly the same as that of the 1963 Article 1(2), save that we no longer use the phrase ‘the States of Malaya’ and ‘the Borneo States’.
He said that the PH federal government intends to restore Sarawak’s rightful place as demanded by the people, with the tabling of the amendment.
“Therefore, it is most regrettable that the GPS Members of Parliament have resorted to the walkout, along with Umno lawmakers, when the amendment Bill to restore Sarawak’s position was tabled in Parliament for first reading yesterday,” he said.