KUCHING, April 12 — Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) parliamentary chief whip Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof today said that the failure of a constitutional amendment Bill to restore Sabah and Sarawak’s status in the federation is not the end of the story.
He said GPS trusts in the sincerity of the federal government that it will table the Bill again with the amendments that Sarawak is seeking.
“We have waited so many decades for this Bill. Surely we can wait three more months until the next Parliament sitting for a revised Bill to be tabled,” the Petrajaya Member of Parliament said.
He urged the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government to eliminate all the loopholes and grey areas before Parliament passes the final Bill in July.
“To this end, GPS will meet with all relevant stake-holders including legal advisers starting from this week,” Fadillah said.
He said GPS is aware that many are disappointed that the Bill to restore the original wording of Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution did not get through after failing to get the two-thirds majority support in Parliament.
He said several people have started pointing figures and finding fault due to this disappointment.
“However, when it comes to restoring Sabah and Sarawak’s rights and protecting our joint interests to its fullest, there shall be no compromise.
“When it comes to Sabah and Sarawak’s rights, de facto Law Minister Dartuk Liew Vui Keong, Stampin Member of Parliament Chong Chieng and Selangau Member of Parliament are not our enemies.
“No one is more passionate about this than us here in GPS. And we are well aware that we will face a big political backlash from those who may not understand the issue or do not understand our passion and resolve for Sarawak rights,” Fadillah said
He admitted that Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg did give his agreement to the amendment, but only in principle.
“Many of us feel that the original wording of Malaysia Agreement 1963 and the draft Bill can be further improved and strengthened.
“We are not asking for more than we are entitled to in MA63 but merely to strengthen and resolve any possible loopholes in order to better protect our interests,” he said.
Fadillah pointed out that the Federal Constitution was drafted more than half a century ago, and that things have changed since then and “you cannot expect it to be a perfect document without loopholes.”
“Based on our experience over the years, we have encountered many grey areas and loopholes such as found in Article 161A(7). The list of races which are indigenous to Sarawak does not include the Iban, Bidayuh or even Lun Bawang,” he said, adding that even the definition of “Malaysia Day” is not mentioned in the Constitution.
He said this is why GPS is seeking to amend the draft Bill to account for all these and other weaknesses.
Fadillah said he and other GPS lawmakers did not reject the Bill, but merely abstained from voting as they feel that the draft Bill can still be improved.