KUCHING, May 9 — After the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) debacle, the Sarawak government promised it will fully cooperate with the parliamentary select committee to come up with comprehensive amendments to the Federal Constitution.
State Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg said his government will ensure the proposed amendments that received the unanimous backing of state lawmakers in the legislative assembly will be incorporated into any Bill to amend the Constitution to be tabled in Parliament.
The chief minister added that de facto law minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong has indicated that he was waiting for “the package” of amendments from Sarawak to be made to the Federal Constitution.
He explained the recent Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2019, introduced in Parliament on April 4, 2019 to amend Article 1(2), did not meet these fundamental objectives particularly the failure to accord recognition to the fact that Malaysia is a federation formed by virtue of Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
“Therefore, the state government was not able to support the Bill aimed as solely to amend Article 1(2).
“The Gabungan Parti Sarawak Members of Parliament had to abstain from voting on this Bill after their proposal to have the Bill referred to a Special Select Committee for deliberation, was rejected,” he said in his ministerial winding up of debate in the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly.
Abang Johari said he met Liew on April 29 after the Bill was defeated in Parliament due to the Pakatan Harapan federal government’s failure to obtain the mandatory two-third support for its passage.
“The federal minister has since announced there would be a special parliamentary select committee on the amendments to the Federal Constitution from Sarawak,” he said, referring to the motion tabled by Sarawak Assistant Minister of Law, State-Federal Relationship and Project
Monitoring Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali on April 30.
The motion proposed a comprehensive amendments to the Federal Constitution in line with the MA63.
Among, others, the motion sought to satisfy the aspirations of all Sarawakians that Sarawak’s constitutional position in Malaysia is not similar to the states in the Peninsular of Malaysia.
It also sought to ensure that the legislative and executive powers and the sources of revenues provided and assigned to Sarawak were securely safeguarded.
It also proposed to provide adequate protection against any encroachment or erosion of the state’s constitutional rights and safeguards.
Abang Johari stressed that state government and the people must, at all times, stay vigilant to prevent any erosion of the state’s constitutional rights and safeguards.
“We, Sarawakians, must stand united and be bold in the defence of our constitutional rights and the special position of Sarawak within the federation,” he said.
He added his late predecessor, Pehin Sri Adenan Satem, had started the process of reclaiming the state’s rights and revenues which had been granted or assigned to Sarawak when Sarawak agreed to the formation of Malaysia.
“I want to continue what the late Adenan had initiated, and indeed with greater vigour and with the united support of all Sarawakians as expressed through their representatives in this august House,” he said.
He said the state government will not abdicate its responsibilities to defend the state’s constitutional rights and the territory of Sarawak, including its boundaries.
“The state government’s record in defending the legitimate interests of the state and our people is truly exemplary and as a matter of public record,” he said.