Pakatan’s Federal Constitution amendment on Sabah, Sarawak foiled

Pakatan Harapan has failed in its first bid to secure the two-third support of the Dewan Rakyat for its proposed amendment to the Federal Constitution on the status of Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysia. — File picture by Miera Zulyana
Pakatan Harapan has failed in its first bid to secure the two-third support of the Dewan Rakyat for its proposed amendment to the Federal Constitution on the status of Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysia. — File picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, April 9 – Pakatan Harapan (PH) has failed in its first bid to secure the two-third support of the Dewan Rakyat for its proposed amendment to the Federal Constitution on the status of Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysia.

The ruling coalition needed 148 votes from members of the Lower House to secure the amendment to Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution but fell short of 10 votes with only 138 voting in its favour.

Some 59 MPs had abstained from voting.

During the seven-hour debate session, several Opposition Sarawak MPs had asked for the amendment to be postponed until existing issues are ironed out, with some suggesting that it be discussed in a special parliamentary select committee first.

PH MPs however called on the Opposition members to put aside their political differences and vote in favour of the proposed amendment, bearing in mind the wellbeing of the Sabah and Sarawak residents.

The government has to re-table the proposed amendment should it wish to pursue it.

PH’s Beluran MP Datuk Seri Ronald Kiandee made an impassioned plea, calling on his former party members from Barisan Nasional (BN) to vote in support of the Bill, telling them that the moment to uplift Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners has been long awaited.

Port Dickson MP Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, also in a spirited speech, reminded the Lower House members how PH enacted the first step, while BN stalled the move during its reign.

“Some say this move is ineffective, but at the very least under PH, the prime minister has taken a meaningful step, but BN never moved an inch even after half a century in power,” Anwar said.

He requested that the amendment to the said Article contain the words ‘pursuant to the MA63’, as only then the amendment can be seen as being holistic.

MA63 refers to the Malaysia Agreement 1963, which the federal government is trying to honour, by reinstating Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners, via the proposed amendment Bill to Article 1(2).

“For this Bill, we truly want to thank the federal government, but it should not just be something that’s done just for the sake of it, or a mere cosmetic approach. That’s why we request that the Article 1(2) be referred to a special select committee to further look into it, and refine it so that the benefit that can be reaped from this amendment can be felt holistically,” Batang Lupar MP from GPS, Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim said.

Santubong MP Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar from Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) failed to seek the withdrawal of the Bill to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution.

136 MPs voted against the motion while one abstained from voting, effectively defeating the motion.

46 MPs participated in the debate session leading up to the bloc voting.