KUCHING, April 6 — Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg said Gabungan Parti Sarawak(GPS) does not support the proposed amendment to Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution as it does not bring substantive benefits to the state and its people.
He said the state government would be doing a disservice to Sarawakians by backing the amendment to Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution tabled by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong in Parliament two days ago.
“Let me at once state that although approve the intention to amend Article 1(2), no approval was given to it in respect of the amendment in its current form.
“This was because the special steering committee on the review of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) never discussed the actual contents and wordings of the amendment,” he said.
He said he highlighted at the first committee meeting that the discussions and decisions should be within the perimeters of the Federal Constitution and MA63.
“Furthermore, any decision, particularly on an issue as important at this would require me to obtain the mandate of the state consultative committee established by the Sarawak State Assembly,” the chief minister said.
“My stand has always been consistent, and this is that we support any amendment to the Federal Constitution or any law that seeks to restore the rights of Sarawak as intended by parties to the Malaysia Agreement.
“However, these amendments must be of substantive nature and not merely in form,” he said.
Abang Johari said when the proposal to amend Article 1(2) was raised by Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal during the first meeting of the steering committee, it was Sarawak’s stand to support this amendment in principle.
“When this proposal was subsequently brought to the first technical committee meeting on January 14, 2019, the representatives from Sarawak were instructed by me to submit a written view.
“This view was that we support the amendment to Article 1(2) provided it comes with an amendment to Article 160(2) on the definition of the ‘Federation’.
“The reason for this was that we wanted to address the aspiration of the people of Sarawak. By amending Article 160(2), a reference to MA63 should be made in the Federal Constitution because the Constitution in its current form makes no reference to MA63,” he said.
He said the technical committee then decided that no piecemeal amendments would be made to the Constitution.
“Indeed it was agreed that a holistic amendment would be made at the completion of the process for the review of the implementation of MA63,” he said, adding that the target is for these amendments to be tabled during the third sitting of Parliament scheduled in October this year.
Abang Johari said the matter was not discussed at the subsequent meeting.
However, he said Sarawak government was informed of the decision to amend Article 1(2) at this parliamentary sitting.
“We then communicated our views to the federal government. Our view was that a singular amendment to Article 1(2) would not achieve its purpose unless accompanied by other substantive amendments, among others, an amendment to Article 160(2).
“We were also of the view that this amendment would be more appropriate if tabled after important substantive decisions have been made on the issues deliberated by the steering committee for the review of MA63,”he said.