Shafie: Sabah will continue to pursue state rights despite failure to amend Constitution

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah will continue to pursue the state rights guaranteed under the Federal Constitution, says Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal (pic).

A day after Parliament failed to pass a constitutional amendment to restore the rights of Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners in Malaysia, Shafie said various issues, including the 40% federal revenue derived from the state and 20% oil royalty, were still on the table.

“It is not the end of the road,” the Semporna MP told reporters on his return from Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday (April 10).

He said that there were many aspects to state rights that will be pursued although the two states had wanted Article 1(2) of the Constitution amended to its original form as it was the “mother” of all articles in the Constitution that would restore Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners with the Malaysian federation.

“Without the amendment, we are still one of the 13 states. I am saddened that it did not pass,” he said, adding that efforts would be made again to have the amendment passed in Parliament.

Shafie said he was ready to talk to his colleagues in neighbouring Sarawak to see how they could try again to get amendments passed in Parliament with a two-thirds majority.

“I don’t know when we can do it again, but we will see what we can do,” he said.

The amendment failed to be passed in Parliament on Tuesday (April 9) after it only got the support of 138 MPs, short of the 148 or two-thirds needed, with 59 including 19 MPs from Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) abstaining from voting.

“We are aware of their (Sarawak’s) concerns. Some of it, we agreed with and steps were taken to address it,” said Shafie.

He pointed out that Sabah and Sarawak could not make any constitutional amendments without the support of Peninsular Malaysia lawmakers, and the chance was there with the support of Pakatan Harapan.

“It was a simple amendment, just reinstate what was there in 1963 that was agreed by our founding fathers,” he said.

Shafie also noted that Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who tabled the second reading as well as in the winding up of the debates, had addressed the concerns of the MPs in which he agreed to form a Parliamentary Select Committee.

Dr Mahathir also assured Parliament that there would be subsequent amendments to the law to ensure Sabah and Sarawak rights were honoured by the Pakatan government.

“I thank our Prime Minister for his full commitment. He listened, explained and met with some of the concerns,” said Shafie, adding that the premier also explained the federation of Tanah Melayu under Article 160 that was among some of the concerns raised.