KUCHING, April 10 — Pakatan Harapan (PH) should not shift the blame on Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) for its failure to secure the two-thirds majority in Parliament for the amendment Bill last night, Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) president Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian said.
He said Putrajaya should have listened to GPS’ call to amend the definition of the “Federation” to mean the Federation established under the Malaysia Agreement 1963, not under the Malaya Agreement 1957.
Dr Sim, who is also the state Minister of Local Government and Housing, said Sarawak PH should have confronted Putrajaya for its refusal to mention MA63 in the constitution so to acknowledge Sarawak’s equal status with Malaya.
“On this point, the Sarawak PH federal lawmakers under Chong Chieng Jen was a huge letdown to Sarawakians when they continued to push Sarawak to agree to a cosmetic change in the Federal Constitution,” he said when responding to the defeat of the Bill to amend Article 1(2) of the Constitution to restore the status of Sarawak and Sabah to the original position in 1963.
The Bill received the support of 138 Members of Parliament, 10 short of the required two-thirds majority, to get it through.
Another 59 Members of Parliament, including 19 from GPS, abstained from voting.
Chong, who is also Sarawak DAP chairman and Stampin MP, blamed the defeat of the Bill to GPS which had put its interests over and above the interests of Sarawak.
He had said the Bill sought to restore the status of Sarawak and Sabah to their original position at the formation of Malaysia in 1963.
Rebutting Chong’s claim, Dr Sim said Chong was seen by many as a hardworking salesman for his political masters rather than playing a relevant role in presenting Sarawakians’ true aspirations in the special steering cabinet committee for the review of MA63.
He commended the “great efforts” being put up by the GPS federal lawmakers in scrutinising the contents of the amendment Bill.
“The GPS stand is not to oppose the Bill but to demand for a complete package of amendments to include Article 1(2) and Article 160 (2) so to restore Sarawak’s equal partner status in form and in substance,” he said, explaining that it was to right the wrong made in the past.
Sarawak for Sarawakians (S4S) civil movement leader KC Tan said the movement is happy to see the defeat of the Bill in Parliament.
“It means that GPS lawmakers, by abstaining themselves from voting, were listening to the majority voices of Sarawakians,” he said.
He said there is no need to rush the Bill just to amend Article 1(2) because there are other issues raised by the state government in the steering committee that needed to be resolved first.
“if we can wait for 43 years for the 1976 amendment to be rectified, why can’t we wait for another six months or one year until we have a complete package for the constitutional amendments?” he asked.
The 1976 amendment put Sarawak and Sabah as among the 13 states of Malaysia, from being equal in status to Malaya.
Former Stampin Member of Parliament Julian Tan said the PH government is sincere and has taken the first step to restore Sarawak and Sabah’s equal status by tabling the Bill, in spite of having not enough number in Parliament.
“It was the first time in Malaysia history since 1976 to have a constitutional amendment tabled to restore the status of Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners to Malaya.
“The tabling of the Bill was done in good faith as it sought to give back what belong to Sabah and Sarawak as equal partnership in the federation,” Tan said, complaining that the effort was derailed by GPS for not giving its support.