Group plans rally to press Sarawak on motion to define ‘Borneo States’

SAPA president Dominique Ng (left) with rally organising committee chairman Peter John Jaban and former SAPA president Lina Soo at a press conference in Kuching April 15, 2019. — Picture by Sulok Tawie
SAPA president Dominique Ng (left) with rally organising committee chairman Peter John Jaban and former SAPA president Lina Soo at a press conference in Kuching April 15, 2019. — Picture by Sulok Tawie

KUCHING, April 15 — The Sarawak Association for People’s Aspirations (SAPA) group told the state Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government today to table a motion to define the “Borneo States” and the “Federation” in the coming State Legislative Assembly sitting.

Its publicity chief Peter John Jaban said SAPA will organise a rally on April 28 at the Central Padang here to pressure the state government to table the motion.

“If they have not drafted the motion by now, then they should do so before the state assembly sits from April 29 to May 9,” he said during a press conference.

He said the organisers will hold another rally if the GPS does not table the motion.

Jaban, who is also the rally organising committee chairman, said the GPS state government must listen to the aspirations and wishes of Sarawakians.

“We want them to table the motion on the definitions of the Borneo States and the Federation. This is what the people want.

“We don’t want Sarawak to be on a lower status with Perlis or Kedah. We want Sarawak to be on par with Malaya,” he said, adding that SAPA wants the definition of the “Federation” in Article 160(2) of the Federal Constitution to mean the Federation of Malaysia established in 1963, not on the Malayan Agreement 1957.

SAPA president Dominique Ng, speaking at the same press conference, said the Sarawak assembly should also debate the defeated amendment to Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution that sought to restore the status of Sarawak and Sabah to that of 1963.

He said the interpretation of the “Borneo States” in the second draft of the amendment Bill referred to Sarawak and Sabah in Malay as “negeri-negeri Borneo”, instead of “negara-negara Borneo”.

“So, it was quite surprising that even the Pakatan Harapan (PH) Members of Parliament have agreed to the interpretation in their statements and speeches.

“But we are not talking about a simple thing in our Federal Constitution. We are talking about an amendment that would affect the status of Sarawak and Sabah as they originally meant to be,” said Ng, who is also a lawyer.

“To me, it is quite shameful to hear Members of Parliament from Sarawak, or maybe Sabah, supporting an amendment that went against the spirit of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) in the sense that they had failed to do a proper and in-depth analysis of the amendment that the PH federal government was trying to do on Article 1(2),” he said.

He said the words “negeri” and “negara” in Malay meant different things, explaining why SAPA will organise the rally to explain to those confused by the interpretation of the term “Borneo States” to mean “negeri-negeri Borneo” in the Malay version of the amendment Bill.

Ng, who is also a former Padungan assemblyman, said Sarawak and Sabah MPs have failed to use the amendment Bill as an opportunity to rectify history and the Federal Constitution.

He said the amendment Bill was a mistake on top of the mistake in the 1976 amendment that downgraded the status of Sarawak and Sabah to among the 13 states in Malaysia.

“What we want is to make sure that we don’t repeat the mistake now for the future of Sarawak,” he said.

“The funny part is that even the PH Members of Parliament from Sarawak were prepared to support the amendment at the first draft which was clearly inadequate to restore the status of Sarawak and Sabah, and which was subsequently rectified in the second draft,” he said.

Ng reminded the Sarawak PH Members of Parliament they were elected by Sarawakians and that they were duty-bound to speak on behalf of them, rather than their PH political masters.

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