Snub constitutional amendment Bill, Sarawak MPs urged

Soo called upon the Sarawak government to block the Bill and to bring the amendment to Sarawak Legislative Assembly for debate and to seek the concurrence of the people. ― Picture by Sulok Tawie
Soo called upon the Sarawak government to block the Bill and to bring the amendment to Sarawak Legislative Assembly for debate and to seek the concurrence of the people. ― Picture by Sulok Tawie

KUCHING, April 9 — Sarawak Reform Party (STAR) has asked Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) federal lawmakers not to support a Bill to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution due to be debated and put to vote in Parliament today.

STAR president Lina Soo said supporting the Bill is tantamount to giving away state’s rights and sovereignty, its children’s inheritance and those of future generations.

“If the Pakatan Harapan (PH) federal government is sincere, then Sarawak and Sabah’s rights must be spelt out clearly to include, among others, veto powers and definition of equity and equality between Sarawak, Sabah and Malaya,” she said.

She claimed the proposed amendment would deny Sarawak and Sabah their Borneo States status, which implies “Statehood”, and relegate them to be territories on par with peninsular states.

Soo asserted that the English definition of state was a nation with a defined boundary, a permanent population, and its own government and laws. 

“The meaning of Borneo states is different from the states of Malaya which means negeri, that is, a small part of a bigger entity whereas the Borneo States of Sabah and Sarawak are self-governing entities with a history, laws, political and social systems,” she said, adding that Sabah’s Head of State was referred to as “Yang di-Pertua Negara” in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

She said the safeguards and assurances accorded to Sarawak and Sabah must also be part of the Explanatory Statement of the Bill to ensure natural justice prevails.

“Without the safeguards and assurances defined in the Explanatory Statement, this Bill is a manipulative and repugnant act which is like giving a blank cheque to the PH federal government to write, or akin to locking ourselves in a prison and throwing the keys away,” she said.

Soo, who is also a rights activist, called upon the Sarawak government to block the Bill and to bring the amendment to Sarawak Legislative Assembly for debate and to seek the concurrence of the people. 

“The amendment must be rock-solid with no room for errors, with the full consensus of the people and all stakeholders to the satisfaction of all parties.

“We have lived with the wrongful amendment for the past 43 years, so why can’t we wait for one more year to do the needful, so that Sarawak will not repeat its past mistakes,” she said.

The Bill, tabled by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong in Parliament on April 4, seeks to put Sarawak and Sabah into another group, instead of as among the 13 states of the Federation, by amending Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution.

Article 1(2) replaced Article 4(1) in 1976 which classified Sarawak and Sabah as the Borneo States and the 11 other states as the States of Malaya.