Prospects for restored rights look bright, say Sarawak leaders


Reports by TARRENCE TAN, STEPHANIE LEE and SHARON LING

KUCHING: Sarawak leaders are optimistic that the proposed constitutional amendments to recognise Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners in Malaysia will be approved in Parliament.

Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) vice-president Datuk Seri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said he was looking forward to the amendments, expected to be tabled next week, as they would restore the rights of Sabah and Sarawak as was agreed in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

“The amendment Bill requires a two-thirds majority and we do hope parties across the divide will support it to get it through,” he said.

Asked whether Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) had reached out to other parties for support, Karim said there was no need to do so.

“We know that parties like DAP, PKR, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, Amanah and Sabah-based parties have openly expressed their support for Sabah and Sarawak’s quest for the return of these rights.

“We will wait and see whether what they say is reflected in their votes on the Bill,” he said.

PBB is a component party of the ruling GPS state coalition, along with Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP), Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) and Progressive Democratic Party (PDP).

Senator Robert Lau from SUPP said he was confident that the proposed constitutional amendments would pass with the necessary two-thirds support.

“The amendments are comprehensive and touch on the substance of the definition of the federation in Article 160 (2),” he said.

He added that Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, who is in charge of the amendments, had reached out to MPs across the political divide to brief them and hear their views.

The Bill, which is scheduled for first reading next Monday, seeks to amend Article 1 (2) to restore Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners in Malaysia, redefine “federation” under Article 160 (2) as one established under MA63 and define Malaysia Day as Sept 16, 1963.

GPS had abstained from voting on the Bill in 2019 then as it felt the amendment was not comprehensive enough.

Back then, the Bill was short of the two-thirds majority required to pass it.

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