KUCHING: Sarawak Association for People’s Aspiration (Sapa) is calling on Sarawakians to attend a planned ‘NEGARA Sarawak Rally’ at Padang Merdeka here on April 28.
Event orgainising chairman Peter John Jaban said the two-hour rally – slated to start at 4pm – is to demand the Sarawak government move a motion to debate the amendment of Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution during the coming State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting.
He said Sapa is calling for Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) and Pakatan Harapan (PH) assemblymen to debate the issue in the DUN so that the people of Sarawak ‘know the real situation’.
“The best thing to do is to debate the issue in the DUN. Stop pointing fingers in the newspaper, which only keep us, the rakyat, in limbo. We don’t know what is going on. We want it to be more transparent,” he told a press conference here yesterday.
Peter, who is Sapa publicity and information chief, said the current situation appears to be a political game as politicians from both sides of the political divide lock horns over ‘words and phrases’, thus making the people of Sarawak even more confused.
The rally, he said, is also to demand that the status of Sabah and Sarawak in the Federal Constitution be restored according to the terms of the Malaysia Agreement 1963, and that the proposed constitutional amendment itself is redrafted to reflect the Borneo States as ‘Negara’, as they were up until Federal Constitution was amended in 1976.
He said Sapa had written to the police to inform them of the rally.
“The rally on April 28 may not be the first. We will organise a bigger one, maybe going across the (Darul Hana) bridge at Kuching Waterfront to the DUN building where the DUN sitting is held, if the Sarawak government does not move a motion to debate the issue.
“All Sarawakians should come and join the first rally at Padang Merdeka to send a strong message as a united Sarawak who want the amendment to be debated in DUN.
“GPS has said that it wants a holistic amendment and not cosmetic, therefore a proper debate is needed,” he said.
According to Peter, both Sapa and Sarawakians at large want a proper process of consultation, and they will not be satisfied with merely a ‘Negeri’ (state) or ‘Wilayah’ (Region) status.
Meanwhile, Sapa founding president Lina Soo said they have no qualms with the English version of the amendment as it would revert Sabah and Sarawak to the ‘Borneo States’ according to Article 4 of the Malaysia Bill or Malaysia Agreement.
She noted that the recent amendment to Article 1(2) was the rewording as in Article 4 of the Malaysia Agreement.
“But what we object to is the Bahasa Malaysia (BM) version. The BM version says the Borneo States will be translated as ‘Negeri-negeri Borneo’. As we know, ‘state’ in English here can mean ‘nation’, although ‘state’ may also mean ‘negeri’, ‘nation’ or ‘province’.
“In the Federal Constitution, the BM version will prevail over the English version, which means Sabah and Sarawak will become ‘Negeri-negeri Borneo’, which is the same as Negeri Perlis; the same as any ‘negeri’ in Peninsular Malaysia,” she said.
Soo also cited that annexed to MA63 is the Constitution of Sabah, in which Article 1(1) says there shall be a Head of State for Sabah, to be called the ‘Yang Dipertua Negara’.
“So, we have all the proof that ‘Borneo State’ means ‘Negara’. Also in September last year, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in an interview acknowledged that Sarawak and Sabah are two ‘negara’. We have the video of that (interview).
“That is why we are organising the rally to assert that the Borneo State of Sarawak be called ‘Negara’ and not ‘Negeri’ in the BM version of the Federal Constitution,” she stressed.