Constitutional (Amendment) Bill 2019 in accordance with MA63 — Hafiz Hassan

APRIL 12 — I refer to the hard-hitting letter from Sarawak Institute of Public Affairs (Sipa) “A lost opportunity for Sarawak’s future — Sipa.”

Sipa considered the Constitutional (Amendment) Bill 2019 as a half-baked deal and deserved what it got — defeated at its second reading.

I do not share this view that the Bill was half-baked.

Let me explain.

The Bill sought to substitute the existing Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution so that Article 1(2) would read as follow:

The States of the Federation shall be

(a) the States of Malaya, namely, Johore, Kedah, Kelantan, Malacca, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Penang, Perak, Perlis, Selangor and Terengganu; and

(b) the Borneo States, namely, Sabah and Sarawak.

The above would have restored Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution following the formation of Malaysia in 1963, with the exception of Singapore. For good measure, Article 1(2) in 1963 is reproduced below:

The States of the Federation shall be

(a) the States of Malaya, namely, Johore, Kedah, Kelantan, Malacca, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Penang, Perak, Perlis, Selangor and Terengganu; and

(b) the Borneo States, namely, Sabah and Sarawak; and

(c) the State of Singapore.

As with every Bill of Parliament, the Bill has an explanatory statement which is as follow:

“[T]his Bill seeks to substitute Clause (2) of Article 1 of the Federal Constitution to specify all the constituent States of the Federation by restoring, with modifications, the position of Clause (2) of Article 1 of the Federal Constitution during the formation of Malaysia in 1963. This amendment is made in line with the spirit of the Malaysia Agreement concluded in 1963. It satisfies the aspiration and hope of the State Governments of Sabah and Sarawak, and all people of Sabah and Sarawak.”

In simple words again, the Bill would have restored Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution as it was in 1963, excluding Singapore of course. And let’s be mindful that Article 1(2) as it was in 1963 was amended into the Federal Constitution pursuant to the Malaysia Agreement of 1963 (MA63).

MA63 is an international agreement. It was registered by Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the first parties to MA63, in the United Nations on 21 September 1970, with registration number of 10760. It is accessible here.

It can be seen from MA63 that Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution in 1963 was pursuant to Article 2 of MA63 and, importantly as well, in the form as set out in Annex A of MA63.

The second party to MA63, the Federation of Malaya had indeed given effect to MA63 by its Parliament passing the Malaysia Act 1963, which can be seen here. Certain parts of the Federal Constitution had also been amended to incorporate the terms of MA63.

It beats me why the Bill was defeated. The Bill is, in words and essence, in accordance with MA63.

The Bill and MA63 should not be politicised. On this account, I agree with Sipa that the MPs who abstained “are least concerned for the people but more concerned for their political gains.”

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.