KUCHING: It is disappointing that Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) MPs chose to play politics over the interests of Sabah and Sarawak by abstaining from voting on the constitutional amendment to restore both states as equal partners in Malaysia, says a Sarawak DAP lawmaker.
Bandar Kuching MP Kelvin Yii said abstaining was as good as rejecting the proposed amendment to Article 1(2) as it meant that the Bill would not secure the two-thirds majority needed to pass it.
"We could have regained our rightful status in the federation but instead, we remain one of 13 states," he said in a statement on Thursday (Apr 11).
Yii rebutted claims of GPS politicians, including Batang Sadong MP Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri and Sarawak United People's Party (SUPP) president Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian, that the Bill's defeat was due to Pakatan Harapan's arrogance.
"This proves that all that matters to GPS is to punish the government and push their political agenda, even though it is at the expense of the people," he claimed.
On GPS's insistence that the phrase "pursuant to the Malaysia Agreement 1963" be included in Article 1(2), Yii said this was not necessary because the proposed amendment was the "exact original words" in MA63.
Changing the words would deviate from the original spirit of Article 1(2), he said, adding that the explanatory notes to the Bill clearly stated that the amendment was made in line with the spirit of MA63.
Yii also said there was no need to delay the amendment by referring it to a parliamentary select committee as proposed by GPS.
"There is already a high-level special Cabinet committee which includes the chief ministers of both Sabah and Sarawak. The steering committee meets every two months and the technical committee meets every month.
"With this high-level committee already set up and all its discussions ongoing, there is no reason or excuse for the Bill to be delayed or referred to a parliamentary select committee that basically consists only of politicians who may not fully understand all the legal implications in the discussion," he said.
The Bill to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution was tabled for second reading by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on Tuesday (Apr 9).
It fell short of the required 148 votes to be passed, with 138 MPs supporting the amendment, none rejecting and 59 abstaining.