Bill on Sabah, Sarawak should go through PSC first, says Ismail Sabri

Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob speaks to reporters in Parliament in Kuala Lumpur April 2, 2019. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob speaks to reporters in Parliament in Kuala Lumpur April 2, 2019. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, April 10 — Putrajaya’s Bill to restore the stature of Sabah and Sarawak would not have been defeated if the government had taken its constitutional amendment proposal to a parliamentary select committee (PSC) first, Opposition leader Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob claimed today.

The Barisan Nasional lawmaker also stressed that the Pakatan Harapan (PH) Bill was not lost because the Opposition rejected it.

“We did not reject... we abstained because we agreed with the points but because they dismissed what we suggested.

“Even so, we also did not reject, we only abstained,” he told reporters in Parliament.

He stressed that the Bill should not have been rushed for tabling in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday but instead taken up for a thorough discussion at the PSC.

Ismail questioned the amendment bid’s significance for Sarawakians and Sabahans, which he said would only highlight the difference between those in the peninsula and those in Borneo from a geographical perspective.

“What’s important is that the Malaysia Agreement 1963 is given attention,” he added.

Yesterday, the Pakatan Harapan federal government tabled a Bill to amend Article 1(2) that aimed to restore the stature of Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners to Malaya in the Federation of Malaysia.

However, the government only succeeded in getting 138 votes, which was 10 votes short of the two-thirds support for a constitutional amendment.

Ismail said the Opposition would back the Bill at the next Parliament sitting if its points made concerning Sabah and Sarawak’s interests is clearly included.

“If the select committee also comprise Opposition representatives among others... if we jointly agree, and if the Sabah and Sarawak state legislative assemblies have expressed their views, once we have all those facts, we can support the amendment,” he said.