KOTA KINABALU: After being debated on for hours in Dewan rakyat on Tuesday, the Constitutional Amendment Bill to restore the status of Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners with the Federation of Malaya as enshrined in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 failed to obtain the required two-thirds majority support.
“But I do not blame the Prime Minister for what happened because it was Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong who drafted the amendment and it clearly showed that he failed to understand what Members of Parliament from Sabah and Sarawak really wanted with regard to the amendment.
“The minister failed to provide the Prime Minister with the correct information,” opined Former Kota Belud Member of Parliament Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan.
Commenting on the failure to get the Bill endorsed, Abdul Rahman said that while the amendment Bill was a big step by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad that should be praised, it failed because it did not represent what Sabah and Sarawak wanted.
“Instead it will raise many issues because the interpretation of its contents was not accurate,” said the Umno Supreme Council member.
Abdul Rahman opined that Liew should have advised the Prime Minister to accept the suggestions from Members of Parliament from Sabah and Sarawak as well as a few opposition MPs from Peninsular Malaysia to send the Bill to the Parliamentary Select Committee so that the language and wordings can be refined.
The former federal minister was also of the opinion that the Pakatan Harapan’s defeat in the voting reflects that the Law Minister had failed to do his ‘homework’ before Dr Mahathir tabled the Bill.
“The minister is not sensitive to the MPs sentiments. In fact, he is aware that he needs the opposition’s support in order to obtain the two-thirds majority. Why was he reluctant to compromise and embarrass the Prime Minister?
“Oppostion MPs had given signs to Liew to compromise and bring the Bill to the Select Committee. There is nothing to lose if he agreed to it as the Bill is one that will change the federation of our country,” he claimed.
Abdul Rahman said that if the Bill was sent to the Select Committee, it would have been a win-win situation for all concerned and Prime Minister would receive praises from all quarters.
“Agreeing to send the bill to Parliamentary Select Committee, as suggested by the opposition, could have and would have saved the Govt from a bungling and embarrasing defeat of this crucial constitutional amendment to Article 1(2),” he opined.
The amendment failed to be passed in Parliament on Tuesday (April 9) after it only got the support of 138 MPs, short of the 148 or two-thirds needed, with 59 including 19 MPs from Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) abstaining from voting.