SARIKEI: Although the state government supports any amendment to the Federal Constitution to restore the rights of Sarawak as equal partner in the Malaysian federation, these amendments must be of a substantive nature and not merely in form, says Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg (pic).
The Chief Minister was speaking for the first time in reference to the proposed amended version of Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution as enshrined in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
He said they supported the amendment to Article 1(2) provided it comes with an amendment to Article 160(2) on the definition of "the Federation".
However, he felt that the amendment of Article 1(2) alone did not fully address the aspirations of the people of Sarawak.
"By amending Article 160(2), a reference to the Malaysia Agreement 1963 should be made in the Federal Constitution. The Federal Constitution in its current form makes no reference to the Malaysia Agreement 1963," he said after performing the ground-breaking for the construction of Jalan Pesisir, linking Sarikei to the Tanjung Manis Halal Hub on Saturday (April 6).
The Bill to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution was tabled in Parliament by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Liew Vui Keong on Thursday (April 4).
Johari said although they had approved the intention to amend Article 1(2), in principle no approval was given in respect of the amendment in its current form.
"This is because the committee never discussed the actual contents and wordings of the amendment," he said.
He said he had also highlighted, at the first steering committee meeting, that their discussions and decisions should be within the parameters of the Federal Constitution and the MA63.
Furthermore, any decision particularly on an issue as important as this would require him to obtain the mandate of the Consultative Committee established by the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly.
He recalled that the first technical committee had also decided that no piecemeal amendments will be made to the Federal Constitution but a holistic amendment would be made at the completion of the process for the review of the implementation of MA63.
The target was for these amendments to be tabled during the third sitting of Parliament, scheduled in October 2019. But it was not discussed further at the subsequent steering committee meetings.
Instead, they were informed of the decision to amend Article 1(2) at this Parliamentary sitting.
"The state government's view was that a singular amendment to Article 1(2) would not achieve its purpose unless accompanied by other substantive amendments, amongst others, an amendment to Article 160(2)," he added.
He hoped with his clarification, no devious allegations would be made against the state government as being not supportive of the amendment.
"The state government reiterates its support to any amendment of laws that would genuinely bring about substantive benefits to the state and its people," he said.
However, if it was to support an amendment which does not bring about actual benefits, it would be tantamount to committing a fraud on the people of Sarawak, he added.