Thursday, November 21

Agreement overriding all others


Mohd Asfia (second right) explains to Yahaya one of the exhibits in the Sarawak DUN gallery during the courtesy call yesterday. — Photo by Muhammad Rais Sanusi

KUCHING: The Bill to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution was ‘meaningless’ as it did not subscribe to the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), says State Legislative Assembly (DUN) Speaker Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar.

According to him, the defeated Bill was supposed to restore the status of Sabah and Sarawak as ‘equal partners’, but ended up only ‘juggling’ the words and arrangement of the states.

“I was present in Parliament when the amendment Bill was tabled. We must subscribe to MA63.

“If you do not subscribe to MA63, it is like a child who says he does not recognise his own birth certificate, because the birth certificate of Malaysia is MA63,” he said at a press conference after a courtesy call on him by Terengganu DUN Speaker Yahaya Ali at the Sarawak DUN Complex in Petra Jaya, here yesterday.

Mohd Asfia added that the amendment cannot be based on the Federation of Malaya Agreement 1957, especially as the Cobbold Commission Report clearly stated that the 1957 Constitution was only a basis, and not to be followed through and through.

“Without an amendment to Article 160(2) of the Federal Constitution, the proposed amendment in Parliament (on April 9) – which was rejected – is meaningless. It is basically a ‘non-amendment’ amendment. It only juggles the words and the arrangement of states,” he said.

Article 160(2) of the Federal Constitution reads “‘The Federation’ means the Federation established under the Federation of Malaya Agreement 1957”.

Mohd Asfia further stressed that MA63 was not only an international agreement, but a treaty signed by the sovereign governments of Great Britain, Federation of Malaya, Singapore and the Borneo territories.

“MA63 was signed by the mentioned sovereignties on July 9, 1963 and registered in the United Nations.

“Any amendment to this cannot be done on the whim and fancy of anyone, except with the consent and concurrence of those signatories who signed the agreement.”

Asked whether this issue would be deliberated in the next DUN sitting, which is expected from April 29 to May 9, he said: “That I leave it to the members whether they want to bring it up. It’s up to them.”

The amendment Bill, which required a two-thirds majority or 148 votes to be passed, only managed 138 votes in favour. No MP voted against the Bill, while 59 MPs from Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), Umno and PAS chose to abstain.

The rejected Bill had proposed that Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution read: “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.”