Jeffrey Kitingan: Sabah assembly the right avenue to discuss amendments to Federal Constitution

Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan. - Filepic/The Star

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah STAR is proposing that the Sabah assembly hold a special session to debate and resolve the words to be used in Article 1(2) and Article 160(2) of the Federal Constitution.

Sabah STAR president Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan said this was the best way forward because any changes to the wording of the Federal Constitution affecting the Bornean states should be agreed upon by the Sabah government and its legislative assembly, rather than the federal ministers.

"It does not matter that the federal ministers are Sabahans or Sarawakians. The reality is that as long as they are federal ministers, they represent the Federal Government, not the Sabah or Sarawak government.

"On the contrary, the Sabah and Sarawak legislative assemblies represent Sabahans and Sarawakians respectively.

"Any decision made by the Parliament that affects the Bornean states without the consent of the governments of Sabah and Sarawak would be illegitimate," he said in a statement here on Saturday (Oct 23).

As such, Kitingan said he welcomed the decision to delay the tabling of the Bill to amend the Federal Constitution as announced by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department for Parliament and Law Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.

Kitingan, who is also Sabah Deputy Chief Minister, said he had always maintained that the proposed wording in the amendments would create more ambiguities, potentially opening the subject to different interpretations, depending on what one believes.

He said that only after the Sabah assembly had debated and unanimously decided on the proper wording to be used, then the decision should be conveyed to Parliament and the Federal Government.

"Furthermore, we don’t want these amendments to be merely cosmetic changes when in reality, Sabah and Sarawak are still not treated as equal partners in this partnership.

"Don’t forget many issues concerning Malaysia and the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) remain unresolved.

"For example, the agreement’s wording has led some to believe that Sabah and Sarawak become parts of Malaya as per Article 1 of the agreement, which stated that Sabah and Sarawak are federated with the existing states of the Federation of Malaya, making us states number 12 and 13 of Malaya," he said.

"In the end, what we see is Malaya changing its name to Malaysia and expanding its borders to include Sabah and Sarawak.

"That is not the aspiration of Malaysia and it is not what our forefathers hoped for when they first agreed to this," Kitingan added.

He said in contrast with MA63, the Proclamation of Malaysia on Sept 16, 1963 which completed the process of forming Malaysia, stated that Sabah and Sarawak (and Singapore) were federated with the Federation of Malaya.

"All I want to say is that going back to MA63 is going backwards. Why not proceed in accordance with the Proclamation of Malaysia when Sabah and Sarawak statuses have changed from colonies to nation states?" he asked.

He suggested that his proposal be tabled in the Sabah assembly special sitting to be debated and resolved by all assemblymen.

"Whatever comes out of our DUN will be the official position of Sabah in any amendment to the Federal Constitution affecting the Bornean states," he said.
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