Upko to Umno: Look into giving Sabah, Sarawak autonomy if syariah laws strengthened

KOTA KINABALU: Umno should amend the Federal Constitution to give more autonomy to Sabah and Sarawak if it wants to strengthen syariah law, says Upko.

The Upko leaders said that if Umno is keen on unilaterally amending the Federal Constitution to expand syariah laws, they should also be prepared to look into the federal-state government relationship with Sabah and Sarawak.

"They must be prepared for a full renegotiation of the federal set-up for Malaysia, so that Sabah and Sarawak can gain more autonomy," said party president Datuk Seri Wilfred Tangau (pic), his deputy, Senator Datuk Donald Mojuntin and vice-president Datuk Ewon Bendedick.

The three issued a joint statement on Monday (March 29) in response to an Umno resolution at their general assembly on Sunday (March 28) to strengthen syariah law through amendments to the Federal Constitution if it wins a two-thirds majority in the next general elections.

On this, all three leaders also said that Umno must remember Malaysia was formed in 1963 through a merger of four countries; the independent Federation of Malaya, North Borneo (later known as Sabah), Sarawak and Singapore.

The Upko leaders added that the commitment for a secular and liberal society is reflected in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and enshrined in the Federal Constitution, which all Malaysian parliamentarians have sworn to uphold.

They said the pledge on the Batu Bersumpah in Keningau was a social contract, where loyalty to Malaysia was premised on the guarantee of religious freedom.

“Constitutional changes involving the fundamental character of the Federation of Malaysia must be a package deal. The social contract cannot be changed in a lopsided way. If Malaya wants to be more syariah-governed, then Sabah and Sarawak must be autonomous," the Upko leaders said.

The Upko leaders added that their party hopes Sabah Umno, Sabah Bersatu, Parti Bersatu Sabah and Sabah STAR would also stand to defend the rights and freedom of the lifestyle of the people of Borneo.

"Regardless of faith, ethnicity, language and partisanship, Sabahans and Sarawakians must stand as one," they said.

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