KUALA LUMPUR, April 14 — De facto law minister Liew Vui Keong has hit back at Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Abang Johari Openg for blaming his staff for the failure of the amendment Bill which sought to restore the equal status of Sarawak and Sabah in Malaysia.
Liew said in a Malaysiakini report that his staff, comprising personnel from the Prime Minister’s Office, the Legal Affairs Department under the Prime Minister’s Department and the Attorney-General’s Chambers, had “contributed and sacrificed so much” for the Bill.
“The statement, if made, is totally unwarranted as it has undermined the confidence and morale of the staff,” he said.
“During the last few weeks or so, my relationship with every one of them grew fondly as we spent time together in the PMD and Parliament until late hours to ensure all the paperwork and documentation were done accordingly for the cabinet’s approval and tabling in Parliament.
“I fully respect their professionalism in carrying out their public duties for states and country,” he said, thanking the Parliament staff for their “unwavering support and dedication.”
On Saturday, Abang Johari told reporters that it was the weakness of the “secretariat” that led to Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) federal lawmakers abstaining from voting a Bill to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution in Parliament last week.
“I tell you, through my meeting, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is very sincere to bring about the change in the restoration, but I think there was a weakness by the secretariat in the handling (of Sarawak’s views on the amendment Bill).
“If there had been a good handling on the part of the secretariat under de facto Law Minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong and us, then you have a very strong platform and understanding among us.
“The wording (of the amendment Bill) could even be better,” he had said.
The Bill, tabled for the second reading by the prime minister, was defeated when it failed to receive the required majority support from two-thirds of the 222 lawmakers in Parliament.
It received 138 — 10 short of two-thirds majority support — from Pakatan Harapan and most lawmakers from Sabah while 59 others, including 19 from GPS, abstained.
The sore point for GPS is apparently the government’s refusal to include the words “pursuant to the Malaysia Agreement 1963” in the Bill.