Speaker overrules objection by MPs to amendment Bill


KUALA LUMPUR: Speaker Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof directed the government to proceed with a historic Bill to amend the Federal Constitution that will return Sabah and Sarawak to their original standing in the federation yesterday.

He made the ruling after Opposition lawmakers from the two Borneo states objected to Datuk Liew Vui Keong’s tabling of the Bill on complaints that they were not given enough time to scrutinise the proposed legislation, the Malay Mail reported yesterday.

Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar (GPS-Santubong) called for the Bill to be postponed and was supported by Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan).

“It is necessary as the steering committee under the prime minister is still discussing the matter,” Bung Mokhtar said in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

Among those who concurred with their views were Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi (GPS-Kapit) and Datuk Jeffrey Kitingan (PSB-Keningau) who pointed out that the legislatures of the two Borneo states should also be included in the discussions.

The East Malaysian MPs found support from peninsular colleagues such as Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob (BN-Bera), Mohd Shahar Abdullah, (BN-Paya Besar) and Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong (BN-Ayer Hitam).

Wee said the amendment should not have been tabled in the current form as it does not give justice to Sarawakians and Sabahans.

“We must look at it holistically; there should have been wider engagement sessions. Why should not the proposed amendments go through a parliamentary select committee (PSC) first?” he said to general approval from the others.

However, Ariff directed the first reading of the Bill to proceed, citing Standing Order 48 that permits a minister to present a Bill without an order of the House for its introduction, after a minimum of one day’s notice.

Linggi began to dispute this, but Ariff cut him off by saying questions regarding the amendments could be raised during the second reading later.

This resulted in a visible indignation among the Sarawakian and Sabahan MPs, mostly from Gabungan Parti Sarawak, who stood up to protest the reading by the legal affairs minister.

When Wan Junaidi tried to cite Standing Order 54(1) that said a Bill may be committed to a select committee before its second reading, Ariff remain unmoved and permitted Liew to make the amendment proposal in the Dewan.