KUCHING: It was a "mishandling" that led to the less than satisfactory wording of the constitutional amendment to restore Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners, says Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.
The Sarawak Chief Minister said proper handling on the part of the secretariat which drafted the amendment Bill would have provided a strong platform for understanding and better wording.
He said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was sincere in wanting to restore the rights and status of Sabah and Sarawak.
"But I think there was a weakness by the secretariat in mishandling it. If there had been good handling, then the drafting can be better.
"That's why I told the (Law) Minister that it must be within the spirit of the Malaysia Agreement. That must be clear," Abang Johari told reporters after closing a programme for certified integrity officers here on Friday (April 12).
He was commenting on Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) MPs' abstention from voting on the proposed amendment to Article 1(2) in Parliament on Tuesday (April 9), which saw the Bill fail to secure the two-thirds majority required to be passed.
Abang Johari also reiterated that Sarawak supported the amendment in principle but that it must be within the parameters of the Federal Constitution and MA63.
"Initially it was okay, but then it was not done as we expected. MA63 must be there in the amendment," he said
Asked if he expected the amendment to be tabled again soon, he said the state government would wait and see.