KOTA KINABALU: All eyes are on the Parliamentary sitting on Tuesday as the Federal government tables the Bill to return Sabah and Sarawak to a position of equal status with peninsula Malaysia in the Federal Constitution.
Parliamentarians, throughout the country, particularly from Sabah and Sarawak are eagerly waiting for the moment to participate in the debate in support of the Bill to amend the Federal Constitution to be in line with the provisioons of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
Although the second reading of the Bill has been rescheduled to another date and not on Oct 28 as initially scheduled, the fact remains that the tabling of the Bill is a good start by the Federal government in listening and considering the demands of the two Borneo states, which are part of the Malaysian Family.
In welcoming the proposed amendment, Former Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak said the new Bill will likely reshape the landscape of Federation of Malaysia.
“We patiently await on the progressive changes that would empower Sabah and Sarawak rights.
“Our hope is that our leaders reach consensus and set aside political sentiments on this matter,” he said in his latest Facebook posting.
Salleh, who is also Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) Backbencher Chairman opined that the changes are crucial to determine the state’s direction in Malaysia as equal partners.
Expressing a similiar view, Political Activitist Mohd Ustar Abdul Ghani said the tabling of the Bill was vital to prove that the Federal government was serious about restoring the original wording of the MA63.
He argued 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.
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.
Ustar hoped with the support of Pakatan Harapan MPs, the Bill will be able to get Parliament’s nod.
On Friday, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Parliament) Dato Sri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar was quoted as saying that the tabling of the Bill will proceed with the first reading to be done in Parliament on Oct 26, but the second reading on the Bill will be rescheduled to another date.