Monday, December 6, 2021

Sarawak CM hails new proposed amendments to constitution in line with MA63

Abang Johari Openg expresses hope that the amendments will receive the support of MPs in Parliament this time.

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Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg today hailed the new proposed amendments to Articles 1(2) and 160(2) of the Federal Constitution to reinstate the rights of Sabah and Sarawak in line with the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

Speaking at a press conference in Kuching, he said amending the defintion of the federation under Article 160(2) was crucial to reflecting the true spirit and intention of Sarawak during the formation of Malaysia.

“These new proposed amendments to the Federal Constitution, particularly Articles 1(2) and 160(2), are more comprehensive and reflect the true spirit and intention of the parties when they entered into MA63.

“These amendments to the definition of ‘the federation’ under Article 160(2) are crucial and must be done so that MA63 and its annexes are recognised in the Federal Constitution,” he said, adding that the amendments would also introduce the definition of “Malaysia Day” in the provision.

Noting that these would be the second attempt at amendments, he voiced hope that MPs would lend their support as the bills will require a two-thirds majority to be passed in Parliament.

“The first attempt in 2018 failed because as it did not receive the required two-thirds majority support of MPs,” he said.

With these new amendments, he said he was optimistic about the commitment of the current government led by Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob to accelerate development and help improve the quality of life for Sarawakians.

However, he also said the allocation for Sarawak in the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) was low compared to the amount needed to close the development gap with the peninsula.

He said the allocation should reflect the federal government’s commitment to recognising Sarawak in an equal partnership.

In an equal partnership, he said, revenue should be shared based on the state’s contributions to the federal coffers including in terms of oil and gas.

“The allocation of RM4.47 billion is a mere 6.8% of the total national development expenditure under the first rolling plan of the 12MP, and clearly does not reflect the needs of Sarawak considering its size and level of development, or its status as an equal partner in the formation of Malaysia,” he said.

He also voiced hope that the definition of natives under Article 161A of the constitution could be amended to recognise Sarawak’s indigenous communities according to the state constitution.

“With this amendment, the power to decide which races in Sarawak shall be recognised as being indigenous to the state would be determined by the state through state laws,” he said.

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