Tuesday, March 26

Towards regaining partner status


Liew (left) chats with Fadillah (centre) and Sharifah Hasidah during the dinner.

KUCHING: The federal government is expected to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution to restore the status of Sabah and Sarawak in the coming Parliament sitting which starts next Monday.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong said the amendment seeks to restore the status of the two East Malaysian states as prior to the amendment in 1976.

“In other words, Sabah and Sarawak will get their status back as defined under Article 4 of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63),” he said during a dinner with members of parliament and state assemblymen from DAP and GPS as well as members of Advocates Association of Sarawak (AAS) here last night.

He emphasised that one of the promises made in the Pakatan Harapan (PH) manifesto was to establish a Cabinet Committee to implement MA63.

“The committee members will be announced once the cabinet approves it. Furthermore, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had made an announcement on Sept 16 that the status of Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners with Peninsular Malaysia will be restored.

“Having said that, all matters and outstanding issues on Sabah and Sarawak cannot be solved merely by having the Cabinet Committee or by announcement by the prime minister,” he said.

He noted that it is also crucial that Sabah and Sarawak MPs give their support in amending provisions in Parliament.

“It requires a strong political will and we must put aside our political differences for the future of our next generation.”

Later at a press conference, Liew said the Cabinet paper on the proposed amendment is expected to be tabled during the coming Cabinet meeting this week.

“After that I will actively proceed to have it tabled if possible during this parliamentary session which will start on Oct 15. It will take some time for the tabling to be processed in the Dewan Rakyat but I hope it can be done this year as the Dewan Rakyat will sit until Dec 11,” he said and hoped all MPs from both the government and opposition will give their support to the amendment.

Meanwhile, Assistant Minister of Law, State-Federal Relations and Project Monitoring Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali, who attended the dinner, said GPS would have to look at the proposal of the amendment to Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution before the coalition could comment further.

“In principle, if the amendment is good for Sarawak, Sabah and Malaysia, we are all for it. What we want is for our rights to be as per MA63.

“But that being said, we will have to look at the proposed amendment before we comment further because at the moment, it is just a statement from them (federal government),” she said, adding that she would also discuss the proposed amendment with Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

Concurring with Sharifah Hasidah was GPS parliamentary whip Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof, who said the coalition would extend its support to the amendment for as long as it is beneficial to Sabah and Sarawak.

“The chief minister has stated that we can support what is beneficial for Sarawak and Sabah, especially in terms of restoring our rights and what has been agreed upon in MA63, which has eroded over the years.

“If the proposed amendment is good for us, we will support; but I cannot comment further until we see it in detail.

“Only then will we discuss and seek guidance from the state government as well as discuss with lawmakers on what are the benefits of this amendment to Sarawak, as well as the whole of Malaysia. This is what we need to keep in mind,” stressed Fadillah, who is Petra Jaya MP.