Reports by TARRENCE TAN, STEPHANIE LEE and SHARON LING
KOTA KINABALU: Sabah MPs across the aisle look set to give their backing to the second attempt to amend Article 1 (2) of the Constitution to its original description of the federation.
Sabah Umno chairman and Kinabatangan MP Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin, who did not support the first attempt by the then Pakatan Harapan government in 2019, said he and Kimanis MP Datuk Mohamad Alamin, also from Umno, would back the upcoming amendment to restore Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners in the federation in line with the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
Sabah and Sarawak became part of the 13 states following an amendment to the Constitution in 1976.
The eight MPs of Parti Warisan Sabah are also set to support the amendment but say they are hoping for more steps to be taken to fully reinstate the other eroded rights in terms of oil and gas and territorial issues.
The opposition party’s deputy president Datuk Darell Leiking said there was no reason for them to not support this Bill, similar to what their Warisan comrade, the late Datuk Liew Vui Keong, who was the former de facto law minister, had done.
“This time, they added another term to amend, which is Article 160 (2) of the Federal Constitution, so of course whatever benefits Sabah, we will support,” he said when contacted.
He said the Bill would be supported as long as it truly gave back Sabah and Sarawak the equal status as stipulated in MA63.
Leiking said he would be interested to find out if those who had objected to the proposal in 2019 – MPs from Barisan Nasional, PAS and Gabungan Parti Sarawak – would say yes this time.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Sabah and Sarawak affairs) Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili recently said the Bill was different from the one tabled during the Pakatan Harapan administration.
Tuaran MP Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau, of the opposition Upko, said he would be debating to support the Bill.
Sabah PKR’s Datuk Christina Liew, the Tawau MP, did not immediately say whether she and her colleague, Putatan MP Awang Husaini Sahari, would back the Bill.
Kota Kinabalu MP Chan Foong Hin said the three Sabah DAP MPs would support the Bill as the amendment of Article 1 (2) was similar to what the Pakatan government had wanted to do in April 2019.
“All reforms start with a single step,” he said, adding that the engagement with Pakatan MPs by the current government was part of its commitment to the memorandum of understanding on bipartisan cooperation.
Sandakan MP Vivian Wong said she would support what was beneficial for the people.
“This is something the people of Sabah and Sarawak have been asking for – an equal partnership status in the federation,” she said.
Sabah with Labuan has a total of 25 MPs, 14 of them in the Opposition and the remaining in support of the current state and federal governments.