Sarawak wants comprehensive constitutional amendments to safeguard state rights

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 30 Apr 2019

The Sarawak Legislative Assembly building in Kuching. – ZULAZHAR SHEBLEE/The Star

KUCHING: Sarawak will seek comprehensive amendments to the Federal Constitution to protect state rights and safeguards under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

The state legislative assembly approved a motion on Tuesday (Apr 30) resolving to secure constitutional amendments to restore Sarawak as an equal partner, provide that "Federation" is defined as the one established under MA63 and not the Federation of Malaya Agreement 1957, and safeguard Sarawak's legislative and executive powers, revenue sources and financial autonomy.

State Assistant Law, State-Federal Relations and Project Monitoring Minister Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali, who tabled the motion, said the recent Bill to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution was hastily tabled on April 9 even though the technical committee on MA63 agreed that it should only be presented to Parliament in October this year.

The Bill failed to secure the required two-thirds majority when GPS MPs abstained from voting on it as they felt it was not comprehensive enough.

Sharifah Hasidah said any future constitutional amendment Bill must include other amendments to the Federal Constitution, including a clear definition that Malaysia is a federation formed pursuant to MA63.

"Making reference to this historical fact in the Constitution would give constitutional recognition to MA63 which contains safeguards for Sarawak's agreement to join in the formation of Malaysia.

"Indeed, to not recognise MA63 in the Constitution is akin to not recognising the existence of MA63.

"If the Constitution can recognise the Federation of Malaya Agreement 1948 and 1957, I see no reason why MA63 should not be recognised after 1963," she said.

Sharifah Hasidah also said the Constitution should be amended to include a definition of Malaysia Day on Sept 16 and a comprehensive definition of the natives of Sarawak.

In addition, it should have clear provisions to safeguard Sarawak's legislative and executive powers, financial autonomy and rights to natural resources, she said.

"Above all, any amendment to the Constitution must make Sarawakians proud to be part of Malaysia, thereby strengthening the unity of our nation.

"A happy Sarawak will contribute to a happy Malaysia," Sharifah Hasidah said.

The motion was unanimously approved at nearly 10pm after a marathon debate session lasting about seven hours, with 47 assemblymen speaking.

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