Monday, December 9

Masing: Bid to restore equal partner status to S’wak did not fail, Putrajaya in midst of review

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Dr James Masing

KUCHING: Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing disagrees with Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad when the latter said the bid to restore Sarawak’s equal partner status in Parliament in April, failed.

Masing, who is Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president, pointed out that the demand for equal partner status was not defeated in Parliament, but what was defeated was a constitutional amendment that ignored, among others, the term ‘in pursuance of MA63’ to be incorporated in the bill.

“By ignoring the term ‘MA63’ (Malaysia Agreement 1963), Putrajaya (federal government) was pulling a fast one on Sarawak and Sabah and hoped that the two eastern states will be part of the 11 federated Malay states, and not regions,” he said in a press statement today.

“Sabah and Sarawak are not (states of the Federation). They are the regions which signed the Agreement (MA63),” he stressed.

“Since its (bill) defeat, Putrajaya has agreed to review the bill to be inclusive of Sarawak’s requirements.”

He claimed that Dr Mahathir, therefore, was not telling the truth in saying that the defeat of the bill was because Sarawak refused to be on equal status with Malaya.

“Let’s play honest politics for once, otherwise, Malaysia as a nation will never be fully united,” said Masing.

When officiating at the Malaysia Day celebration here last night, Dr Mahathir said efforts to restore Sabah and Sarawak’s rights would continue even though he lamented the failed bid in Parliament last April to restore the equal partner status of Sabah and Sarawak with that of Malaya.

On April 10 this year, the bill failed to get two-thirds majority when 138 MPs voted in favour, 59 abstained, none objected to the amendment of Article 1(2) of Federal Constitution.

The Constitution Bill (Amendment 2019) did not get the green light in Parliament when it was put to vote after more than six hours of fierce debate following its second reading by Dr Mahathir.

Given the significance of the Bill to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution, a two-thirds majority or 148 votes was required for it to be passed.

The proposed amendment of Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution sought to separate Sarawak and Sabah from being listed together with the 11 states of Malaya after the amendment of the Article in 1976.

Had the Bill passed, the States of the Federation would have been: (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.

Before voting began Santubong MP Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar of Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) tabled a motion under Standing Order 54 (2) to have the amendment bill referred to a Special Parliamentary Committee for further review.

His motion, which was seconded by Bintulu MP Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing (also of GPS), received only 60 favourable votes against 176 objecting votes, and caused the Speaker to announced that it be rejected.

The MPs from Sarawak who took part in the debate on the bill were Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof (Petra Jaya), Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar (Santubong), Dato Sri Nancy Shukri (Batang Sadong), Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim (Batang Lupar), Datuk Wilson Ugak Kumbong (Hulu Rajang), Mordi Bimol (Mas Gading), Ali Biju (Saratok), Anyie Ngau (Baram), Dr Kelvin Yii (Bandar Kuching), Hasbi Habibollah (Limbang), Rubiah Wang (Kota Samarahan), Aaron Ago Dagang (Kanowit) and Ahmad Johnie Zawawi (Igan).

Dr Mahathir, who is Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman, in the winding up speech then said a Special Committee was not required for further review on this bill since the amendment was clear.

The negotiations and discussions between the federal government and Sabah and Sarawak state governments however would carry on in line with the spirit of MA63, he pointed out.