SIBU: Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate for Lanang Kelvin Kong has defended the seven Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) parliamentarians who had supported the 1976 constitutional amendment.
Calling them “loyal Sarawakians”, he said they did so in the best interest of Sarawak.
“The seven had indeed voted for the constitutional amendment, but it was in the best interest of Sarawak to support the amendment at the material time,” he told a press conference here yesterday.
He was responding to Democratic Action Party (DAP) candidate for Lanang Alice Lau, who said the action of the SUPP MPs in voting for the amendment was tantamount to selling out some of Sarawak’s rights.
“As time went by, Sarawakians realised that many rights enshrined in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 were eroding, such as senior posts in the federal departments in Sarawak which were occupied by West Malaysians, and more West Malaysian teachers being based in Sarawak.
“Indeed, (former premier Tun) Dr Mahathir (Mohamad) didn’t vote when voting was called for the 1976 Constitutional Amendment. But he didn’t object to the amendment either.
“He was then the deputy prime minister and minister of education. If he did not object, it implied that he supported the constitutional amendment,” he argued.
According to Kong, during the first reading of the amendment on July 13, 1976, nine opposition members voted against the amendment but when it came to the second reading, four MPs from
DAP and one from Barisan Socialist opposed the amendment.
He said Dr Mahathir could not now say that he did not know anything about the constitutional amendment which resulted in Sarawak being demoted from ‘negara’ (nation) to ‘negeri’ (state).
“We also noticed that when Dr Mahathir was the Finance Minister, seven (local) banks or financial institutions were forced to merge with Public Bank Berhad and Hong Leong Bank.
“These seven banks are Hock Hua Bank, Hock Thai Finance, Kwong Ming Bank, Kwong Ming Finance, Wah Tat Bank, Chew Geok Lin Finance and Delta Finance,” said Kong.
According to him, the financial records of these banks were all very healthy but Dr Mahathir as the Finance Minister ordered them to be merged with Public Bank and Hong Leong Bank.