Bintulu Port controversy: Parliament can’t pass laws about land, says Sarawak politician

Soo said Article 95D of the Federal Constitution forbids Parliament from passing uniform laws about land or local government in relation to Sarawak. ― Picture by Sulok Tawie
Soo said Article 95D of the Federal Constitution forbids Parliament from passing uniform laws about land or local government in relation to Sarawak. ― Picture by Sulok Tawie

KUCHING, Sept 5 — Sarawak Reform Party (STAR) president Lina Soo today raised doubts as to whether Parliament had the power to declare an area in Bintulu 40 years ago as a site for a port which is now known as Bintulu Port. 

She said Article 95D of the Federal Constitution forbids Parliament from passing uniform laws about land or local government in relation to Sarawak.

“Articles 76(1) ( c), 76 (3) and 74 (4) prohibits Parliament from legislating land matters without the consent and approval of the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly,” she said when responding to comments by PKR’s Batu Lintang State Assemblyman See Chee How.

In a statement yesterday, See had claimed that all Sarawak MPs had fully supported the passing of the Bintulu Port Authority Act 1978 and the Declaration of an Area in the Bintulu District as a Federal Port in 1979.

He said the Act and the Declaration culminated in the establishment of Bintulu Port Sdn Bhd under the Bintulu Authority Act 1981.

Soo argued that See was confused between the roles and powers of Members and Parliament and lawmakers of the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly. 

“Sarawak MPs have no power or mandate to decide on Sarawak matters, specifically land and local government,” she said, adding that in Parliament, Sarawak MPs do not represent the Sarawak government or state assembly.

“So it does not matter if they support any federal law which goes against the interests of the Sarawak people,” Soo said.

Soo urged Sarawak Pakatan Harapan (PH) politicians not to create fear and anxiety among the people by accusing those who raised issues related to the state’s rights as inciting anti-federal sentiments.

She questioned if they are for the people of Sarawak, or if they owe their allegiance to their political masters in peninsular Malaysia only.

Soo said instead of accusing Barisan Nasional of discriminating against the state for the last 56 years, state PH lawmakers should band together with Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) state lawmakers for a better Sarawak, instead of fighting against each other.

She said protecting Sarawak’s rights within the constitutional ambit of state and federal legislation is not “reckless”, but the “noble duty” of all elected lawmakers of Sarawak to uphold and guard zealously.

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