KOTA KINABALU: It would be better for Sabah leaders to push for a new deal pinpointing what they want, rather than pursuing an amendment that they claimed would ensure equal partnership.
This is among the views gathered from a diverse panel during a talk organised by Society Empowerment and Economic Development of Sabah (SEEDS) entitled “Article 1(2): Re-Imagining the New Federation of Malaysia?” on Saturday evening.
Universiti Malaya’s Tunku Abdul Rahman Foundation law professor Emeritus Prof Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi said there was no such thing as equal partnership within a federation to begin with.
Likening Sabah and Sarawak’s unending pursuit for equal partnership to a fairy tale, the constitutional expert said while Sabah could try to pursue a confederation concept for additional or asymmetry rights, he did not see the concept as doable in the near future.“Federations are going stronger around the world. Maybe it may happen but I don’t see that happening right now.
“If you see foreign policies and trade everywhere becoming more important, it basically means more central powers,” he said.
Sabah veteran politician Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia said it is a waste of time for the government to push for the Article 1(2) amendment just for the sake of upholding the election manifesto.
“Malaysia Agreement 1963 is a done deal, we must figure out what we want if there is a new deal.
“We tell the Federal Government what we need and we stop spinning facts for political reasons that rile up the grassroots such as whether to celebrate Sept 16 or Aug 31 (for independence) because you can celebrate either or both – it’s the politicians who played up the issue,” said the former Dewan Rakyat speaker.
He also suggested the way forward would include identifying the state government’s residual powers which overlap with the Federal Government’s, like those related to tourism tax and environmental issues.Pandikar also called on the identifying of guarantees and what were covered in the Constitution that had not been executed by the Federal Government, for instance, the 40% tax which should be given to Sabah and Sarawak in line with Schedule 10 of the Federal Constitution.
The Bill to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution which, among others, aims to restore Sabah and Sarawak’s status as equal partners in the Federation of Malaysia, failed to get a two-thirds majority in Parliament on April 9.