Wednesday, August 10

Law needed to allow referendums on critical issues, says Wan Junaidi (Video)

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KUCHING: The federal government should enact a law to allow referendums to be held in order to give citizens their say on major issues that affect them, said Santubong MP Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.

The former federal minister said last night that as there are currently no laws on referendums, decisions on matters of great public interest could be made at the whim of legislators and politicians.

Speaking to reporters after the ‘Referendum – Facts and Legal Implications’ forum, he said a referendum could be held on current issues like the usage of English and on whether Sarawak should remain in Malaysia.

“For example, let us say that West Malaysia wanted to take the oil from the state, they should have a referendum first.

“The problem is that it is not in the constitution; it is not in the law at all. There is no law at the moment for one to organise a referendum.

“That is why the federal government must enact a law on referendums so that if every state (in Malaysia) have any proposals or burning questions, referendums can be held,” Wan Junaidi, who is a lawyer, said.

He said a referendum is an instrument of law that is used to enhance democracy as the people has the power to have their views taken into account, not just that of the government or the politicians.

“So anything that is critical including the one that people are talking about, whether we should stay or whether we should exit Malaysia, there must be a referendum.

“Ask the people because it is a very serious question,” Wan Junaidi said.

The forum was organised by Sarawak Patriots Association (SPA) and was done to provide a clearer picture to the public on a referendum on Sarawak’s position in Malaysia.

Among the speakers were Wan Junaidi, Sarawak Culture Research Institute president Datuk David Teng and Sarawak Association of Peoples’ Aspiration (SAPA) president Dominique Ng.

Moderated by Universiti Malaysia Sarawak public administration expert Associate Professor Dr Ahi Sarok, Teng spoke on the referendum’s key components and Ng touched on the legal implications from the non-governmental organisation’s perspective.