DAP rep: Govt must apologise for not making Sarawak an equal partner

KUCHING, April 30 — DAP’s Bukit Assek state lawmaker Irene Chang said that the federal government should apologise to the people for failing to ensure equal partnership for Sarawak in the Federation of Malaysia since 1963.

She said the equal partnership should have been properly drafted into the Federal Constitution in line with the spirit of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

“Even in the original wording of the Federal Constitution before the 1976 amendment, it had failed to clearly show that equal partnership,” she said when debating a motion to amend the Federal Constitution in Sarawak State Legislative Assembly here today.

“And even if we can imply the partnership by the separation of states by putting them into categories of a), b) and c), then the Borneo States of Sabah and Sarawak were one entity and certainly not one in three,” she said.

Chang said it is her personal stand that the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2019, as tabled in Parliament on April 9 could have been drafted with more clarity where all parties would know where they stand after just one reading.

She said a good Bill should be one which should leave no room for ambiguity and conjectures.

“It is my view that if the proposed Bill had been passed on April 9, the matter, that is, the status of Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak, might still not be put to rest. It would definitely have put us in a better position than we are now.

“But the question is whether that would have been sufficient for our people. And if we had taken that step, would another chance be given to us to further upgrade our status?

“Of course, we know that if the state government changes hands, the possibility of that is high. Therefore, no matter what, the paramount issue in the amendment of Article 1(2) should somehow inject the spirit of MA63 into the Federal Constitution,” she said.

Chang said it may be more prudent to add in the words “Pursuant to Malaysia Agreement 1963” to the proposed amendment Bill in an order that there will be no ambiguity.

She said there should be no possible room for doubt of what exactly is Sarawak’s status within Malaysia.

“We do not want our children and children’s children to be still engaged in the same battle in years to come,” she said.

Chang said without the insertion of the words “pursuant to Malaysia Agreement 1963”, and the “Federation” as in Article 160(2) means the Federation formed pursuant to 1957 Constitution.

She said the definition of the word “Federation” is a relic of the Malayan constitution in 1957 and ideally it should have been amended along with Article 1(2) in 1963 when Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore came together with Malaya,” Chang said.