Sarawak CM’s claim of weakness in law ministry’s secretariat not true, says state DAP leader

Sarawak Pakatan Harapan chairman Chong Chieng Jen speaks to reporters at Parliament in Kuala Lumpur April 8, 2019. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Sarawak Pakatan Harapan chairman Chong Chieng Jen speaks to reporters at Parliament in Kuala Lumpur April 8, 2019. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUCHING, April 13 — Sarawak Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman Chong Chieng Jen today denied claims by Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) that its lawmakers abstained from voting a constitutional amendment Bill due to alleged weakness in the secretariat of the law ministry.

He said de facto Law Minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong’s secretariat had done no wrong, contrary to Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg’s statement yesterday.

“The fault lies with the self-serving political interest and the big egos of GPS,” the Stampin Member of Parliament said.

He alleged that GPS did not want the amendment Bill to be passed in Parliament as it meant it would lose its campaigning point for the coming state election.

Chong also claimed that the passage of the Bill would mean that the PH federal government could do within a year of capturing Putrajaya what Barisan Nasional had failed to do despite 43 years in power.

He said it had become a norm for GPS to never accept anything from the opposite side of the political divide, even if it was beneficial for the people.

Chong, who is also the deputy minister of domestic trade and consumer affairs, said such a tactic from GPS would not work in Parliament.

He slammed GPS for trying to put in additional words into the Bill, even though it contained the exact wording of the original version of 1963.

“The attempt was done as they thought that they could repeat it in Parliament what they did in the Sarawak State Assembly,” he said.

Chong said GPS had squandered a golden opportunity for Sarawak to regain its original status in the Federation of Malaysia.  

At a press conference yesterday, Abang Johari blamed a weakness in the “secretariat” which led to GPS federal lawmakers abstaining from voting for the Bill to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution in Parliament on April 9.

The chief minister said the secretariat had mishandled Sarawak’s views on the amendment, especially on the proposal to add “pursuant to Malaysia Agreement 1963” in the Bill.

He said GPS had also proposed that the definition of the “Federation” under Article 160(2) of the Constitution be re-defined to mean the Federation established under MA63, not under the Malayan Agreement 1957.

The amendment Bill was defeated when it only obtained the support of 138 lawmakers — 10 short of the mandatory two-thirds majority that was required to pass any constitutional amendment — while 59 others, including 19 from GPS abstained.

There was no vote against the Bill.

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