Malaysiakini Letter

Constitutional amendment bill in accordance with MA63

Hafiz Hassan  |  Published:  |  Modified:

LETTER | I read with interest the Malaysiakini article Constitutional amendment bill: An accident waiting to happen

I share his sadness that the, “Sabah and Sarawak MPs were not united on such an important bill. They prioritised their politics, not the future of their fellow citizens or the nation.”

However, I am also perplexed when the writer said the bill was “defeated, and rightly so.”

Let me explain.

The Constitutional (Amendment) Bill 2019 seeks to substitute the existing Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution so that Article 1(2) will read as follow:

The States of the Federation shall be - 

(a) the States of Malaya, namely, Johore, Kedah, Kelantan, Malacca, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Penang, Perak, Perlis, Selangor and Terengganu; and

(b) the Borneo States, namely, Sabah and Sarawak.

The above would have restored Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution following the formation of Malaysia in 1963, with the exception of Singapore. For good measure, Article 1(2) in 1963 is reproduced below:

"The States of the Federation shall be -

(a) the States of Malaya, namely, Johore, Kedah, Kelantan, Malacca, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Penang, Perak, Perlis, Selangor and Terengganu; and

(b) the Borneo States, namely, Sabah and Sarawak; and

(c) the State of Singapore."

Lest it be forgotten by the MPs, every bill has an explanatory statement. The explanatory statement to the constitutional amendment bill reads as follow:

“Clause 2 of this Bill seeks to substitute Clause (2) of Article 1 of the Federal Constitution to specify all the constituent States of the Federation by restoring, with modifications, the position of Clause (2) of Article 1 of the Federal Constitution during the formation of Malaysia in 1963. This amendment is made in line with the spirit of the Malaysia Agreement concluded in 1963. It satisfies the aspiration and hope of the State Governments of Sabah and Sarawak, and all people of Sabah and Sarawak.”

In simple words again, the bill would have restored Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution as it was in 1963, excluding Singapore, of course. And let’s be mindful that Article 1(2) as it was in 1963 was amended into the Federal Constitution pursuant to the Malaysia Agreement of 1963 (MA63).

And lest it is still unknown to the MPs, MA63 is an international agreement. It was registered by Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the first parties to MA63, in the United Nations on 21 September 1970, with the registration number of 10760. It is accessible here.

It can be seen by all that Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution in 1963 was pursuant to Article 2 of MA63 and, importantly, in the form as set out in Annex A of MA63.

The second party to MA63, the Federation of Malaya had indeed given effect to MA63 by its Parliament passing the Malaysia Act 1963, which can be seen here. Certain parts of the Federal Constitution had also been amended to incorporate the terms of MA63.

It beats me why the constitutional amendment bill was defeated. The bill is, in words and essence, in accordance with MA63. MA63 should not be politicised.


The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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