KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 14 — The ruling coalition secured a crucial two-thirds support to amend clauses of the Federal Constitution to reflect the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) in a move that could restore the status for Sarawak and Sabah as equal partners to peninsular Malaysia.

The amendment Bill was given passage through bloc voting, with 199 members of Parliament backing the Bill without opposition, Speaker Tan Sri Azhar Azizan Harun announced.

Twenty-one members were not present.

The amendments come just four days before Sarawakians are due to cast their votes in the state election, an outcome observers believe will heavily favour the coalition of native ruling parties led by the ring wing Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu.


Minister in the Prime Minister Department Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar in a statement issued immediately after the amendments were passed called the passage a “historical” moment for the people of Sarawak and Sabah.

“The Bill to amend the Federal Constitution relevant to the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) was unanimously passed in the Dewan Rakyat today — a historical moment for the people of Sarawak and Sabah,” said Wan Junaidi, MP for Santubong and a Sarawakian himself.

“The amendment would truly give recognition to the demands and special status of Sabah and Sarawak upon joining Malaysia in the Federal Constitution.”


The amendment, according to Wan Junaidi, would see MA63 placed in an equal footing with the Federal Agreement 1948 and Federal Agreement 1957, as it detailed the stage of the formation and the direction of Malaysia from the Federation of Malaya 1948 and to the direction of the Federation of Malaya 1957 when the Federal Constitution was being adopted in 1957.

“What we are doing here is to place the MA63 in the Federal Constitution in order to become the real Malaysia in the context of the three agreements — Federal Agreement 1948, Federal Agreement 1957 and the MA63,” he said.

“It gives dignity to Sabah and Sarawak as being part of Malaysia, which then created this country.”

With the amendment, Article 160(2) of the Federal Constitution, among others, is redefined with the insertion of MA63 to underline the inclusion of Sabah and Sarawak into the federation, giving due recognition to the special status of the two states as an autonomous bloc.

The federation was previously defined merely by the Malaya Agreement 1957.

The same article was also amended to recognise Malaysia Day as September 16, 1963. Despite several references, the Constitution had until now defined the Malayan Independence.

This constitutional recognition means pledges made in 1963, as spelled out in the InterGovernmental Committee (IGC) report, can now be revived according to Wan Junaidi.

“As a result of this, the federal government can no longer say the demands from Sabah and Sarawak are not in the Constitution or in the law of Malaysia because it is already in the Federal Constitution,” the Prime Minister’s Department said.

The IGC report is the in-depth study of the Cobbold Commission Report on the demands of Sabah and Sarawak made then.

“This is about the recognition of Sabah and Sarawak as the states in Malaysia — with a difference,” the minister said.

“An example of this would be having control over its own immigration borders, complete control over its own natural resources including oil and gas, forest and land and all things found under the subsoil of Sabah and Sarawak.”

The amendments could also mean Sabah and Sarawak can have its own judicial commission, which is among promises made under the Agreement. The two states have no judicial commission to this day, according to the minister.

“As per the Agreement, the Sabah and Sarawak state government via the Governors, should have the authority to appoint the commissioner, unlike any other states,” Wan Junaidi said.