KUCHING: A state rights NGO will stage a rally at Padang Merdeka here on April 28 to demand the restoration of Sabah and Sarawak's constitutional status as "negara".
Sarawak Association for People's Aspiration (Sapa) immediate past president Lina Soo said the NGO objected to the Bahasa Malaysia version of the failed Bill to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution, which translated the "Borneo states" of Sabah and Sarawak as "negeri-negeri Borneo".
She argued that the term "Borneo states" according to the terms of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 meant "nation" or "negara".
"In the Federal Constitution, the Bahasa Malaysia version will prevail over the English version, which means as 'negeri-negeri Borneo', we will be the same as Perlis or any state in the peninsula.
"So we are organising a rally to assert that the Borneo state of Sarawak shall called negara," Soo told a press conference here on Monday (April 15).
She added that defining Sabah and Sarawak as "negara" would be the rightful recognition of their constitutional status as sovereign nations at the time Malaysia was formed.
The rally's organising chairman Peter John Jaban said Sapa was also calling on the state government to move a motion on this issue in the Sarawak Legislative Assembly sitting scheduled to start on April 29.
He said elected representatives from Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) and Pakatan Harapan should stop pointing fingers and instead debate the matter in the state assembly.
"The state government must listen to the rakyat and move a motion on the definition of the Borneo states. This is what we want," he said.
Sapa president Dominique Ng said the proposed constitutional amendment,
which was defeated in Parliament last Tuesday (April 9) when it failed to secure a two-thirds majority, would affect the status of Sabah and Sarawak as it was originally meant to be.
"To me, it is quite shameful to hear MPs from Sarawak and Sabah supporting an amendment that goes against the spirit of MA63," he said.
Ng added that the MPs failed to do a proper, in-depth analysis of the amendment that the Pakatan federal government was trying to do.
"Pakatan has got it all wrong currently. 'Negeri' and 'negara' mean two different things," he said.
Ng added that this was an opportunity to rectify history and the constitutional status of Sarawak and Sabah.
"As the current generation of leaders, we must not repeat the mistakes made by our leaders in 1976," he said, referring to a constitutional amendment which downgraded Sabah and Sarawak to the 12th and 13th states instead of equal partners with the peninsula.