KOTA KINABALU: The Federal Government has been urged to retable the Pakatan Harapan’s bill to amend the Constitution to restore the status of Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners with Peninsular Malaysia as enshrined in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63 before the 15th General Election (GE15).
In making the call, Political Activitist Mohd Ustar Abdul Ghani said this was necessary to prove that the government was serious about restoring the original wording of the MA63.
“The recent announcement by Prime Minister in Kota Kinabalu that the Federal government through the Special Council on Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), promises to pay close attention to issues related to the interests of Sabah and Sarawak has sparked considerable excitement.
“These commitments must, of course, be translated into action. We hope it is not just empty rhetoric or political theater. Now is therefore an opportune time to deliver the goods,” he said in a statement today.
Ustar said Article 1(2) was amended in 1976 to put all Malaysian States on an equal footing within the Federation.
He asserted that the original wording of Article 1(2) provided that ‘the States of the Federation’ shall be: (a) the States of Malaya, comprising the eleven states in peninsular Malaysia which constituted the erstwhile Federation of Malaya (1948-1963); and (b) the Borneo States, namely Sabah and Sarawak.
“What is necessary on both sides of the South China Sea is to return spirit of the Federal Constitution of 1963; to honour and renew our commitments to safeguard the rights accorded to Sabah and Sarawak.
“Any effort to restore Sabah and Sarawak’s position as an equal partner should not only hinges on reinstating what have been eroded under the Malaysian Agreement 1963,” he said.
Ustar said instead, it should embrace the words of the founding fathers and Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution when it was drafted in 1965 to include Sabah and Sarawak (as an equal partner).
He added that the amendment made to Article 1(2) in 1976 was not cosmetic but a sinister move to distort the history of Malaysia’s formation.
“With the opposition now agreeing to political reforms, the government should now seriously consider retabling the proposed amendment of Article 1(2) in Parliament before the next general election reverting its original spirit and wordings as enshrined in the Article 1(2) of 1965,” he said.
Ustar said the recent undertaking by the federal government to restore Sabah and Sarawak’s rights in the light of the agreed political reforms must now be fulfilled and not merely a political rhetoric to draw support from the Borneo block.
On April 8, 2018, the then Pakatan Harapan Government failed to get the nod from the Dewan Rakyat for the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2019,
Out of 197 MPs who attended the Dewan Rakyat, 138 MPs voted for the Bill, while none voted against.
However, another 59 abstained from voting for the Bill which requires a two-thirds majority or the agreement of 148 MPs to pass under Article 159 of the Federal Constitution.
On Dec, 2019 the then Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohamed Hanipa Maidin was quoted as saying in the Dewan Negara that a total 17 out of 21 matters tabled by the Sarawak and Sabah governments at the Cabinet special committee meeting to review the implementation of the Malaysia Agreement have been jointly approved.