KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): The allegation by Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin, that the Opposition did not vote last year on an amendment to the Federal Constitution to make Sabah and Sarawak equal partners in Malaysia because it was “without substance”, is categorically untrue, says the de facto law minister.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong said that in fact the Special Cabinet Committee had secured an agreement between the Federal Government and the Sabah and Sarawak state governments on 17 out of 21 issues related to the implementation of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA 63).
Among the 17 issues were the authority of the Sabah administration over Sipadan and Ligitan islands, export duty on wood and forest produce, the authority of the state governments over health, and the regulation of electricity and gas supplies.
“The remaining four issues are expected to be settled by the Special Cabinet Committee in early 2020.
“Therefore, no issue concerning an insubstantial amendment arose, as alleged, ” said Liew in a statement Sunday night (Jan 5), referring to a report published in The Star titled: Khairy: Umno, PAS abstained from voting on constitutional amendment for Sabah, Sarawak as they wanted more substance.
On April 9 last year, 138 MPs comprising those from Pakatan Harapan as well as independents, had voted to approve the amendment but Khairy along with the rest of his Barisan Nasional colleagues and 19 from Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) did not vote.
A total of 148 votes were needed to approve the amendment, said Liew, alleging that the abstention by Khairy and the others had “denied Sabahans and Sarawakians their constitutional right to be recognised as equal parties in this Federation”.
He added that at the material time before the vote, “there was only one request from the Opposition. GPS requested that five words, ‘in accordance with the MA63’, be inserted into the main clause and not in the Explanatory Note”.
Liew further asserted that the Opposition did not make a “noble effort” to secure an amendment of greater substance, as Khairy alluded. – Bernama