KUCHIHG, April 7 — Sarawak Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman Chong Chieng Jen said today the support of the 19 federal lawmakers from Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) is crucial for a Bill to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution to get through in Parliament.
He said it is also crucial for Sarawak to regain its rightful position in the Federation of Malaysia.
Chong, who is also the Sarawak DAP chairman and Stampin MP, said the amendment Bill is due to be debated and put to vote in Parliament this coming Tuesday.
He said the Bill requires the support of two-thirds out of the total number of 222 Members of Parliament to carry through.
“I urge GPS to give their support to the Bill and to forget their ego and pride for the Bill to get through,” Chong told reporters here.
“We regret that the GPS has come very strongly against the amendment which is to set up the framework and platform as a first step in reclaiming the state’s rights and the restoration of Sarawak’s status to its original position in 1963,” he said.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg yesterday rejected the proposed amendment saying that it did not benefit the state and its people.
Abang Johari had also said that although he agreed in principle to the amendment, he did not agree to it in its current form.
He had also said he was not consulted in the drafting of the amendment Bill.
At a press conference today, which was also attended by state PKR and Amanah leaders, Chong explained why the proposed amendment does not include the phrases “The States of Malaya” and “The Borneo States” as appeared in the original Article 4(1) of the Federal Constitution before it was amended as Article 1(2) in 1976, which put all the 13 states into a single group.
He said the special steering committee on the review of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and technical committee discussed at length on the two phrases.
“We discussed the implications of having the phrase The Borneo States and why we decided to exclude it in the proposed amendment Bill,” Chong, who is a member of both committee, explained.
He added Sarawak and Sabah are not the only states on the Island of Borneo as there are also the country of Brunei and Indonesian Kalimantan provinces.
He said despite the exclusion of the two phrases, the proposed amendment is similar in structure to the original Article 4(1) of the Federal Constitution.
Chong, who is also a lawyer by profession, said the exclusion of the two phrases does not mean that the proposed amendment is different in structure from the original Article 4(1).
“You get 10 lawyers, you get 10 opinions. All lawyers have their preferences and presentations, choice of words of drafting any documents or laws,” he said, referring to different legal interpretations from some lawyers on the wordings of the proposed amendment to Article 1(2).
“But the important thing is that if we were to get this amendment across and through, then the framework of the federation will be (a) the Peninsular Malaysia states and (b) Sarawak and Sabah,” he said.
He said Sarawak and Sabah will then have equal in status with Peninsular Malaysia.
“There is no reason for GPS to block this amendment,” he said, adding that the discussions on the Malaysia Agreement 1963 will continue to go on even if the amendment is carried through in Parliament.