A missed chance for Sabah and S'wak

Kelvin Yii


MP SPEAKS | It is disappointing that the opposition including those from Sabah and Sarawak from GPS chose to play politics over the interests of Sabah and Sarawak in rejecting the significant amendments to Article 1(2) that will restore the rightful status of Sabah and Sarawak as reflected under the Malaysian Agreement 1963.

It was from the beginning that the Pakatan Harapan federal government has shown our intention to restore the rightful status of Sabah and Sarawak and recognise us as founding members in the federation. 

This sincerity was shown by not only amending the words to the amendment to the exact wording of the constitution in 1963 based on the spirit of MA63 to remove any doubts or misinterpretation of the amendments, but also to take the risk of tabling a constitutional amendment in Parliament even though we do not have two-thirds majority in the House.

I listened carefully to all the debates and arguments even those from the opposition as this is an important issue that is close to my heart. The main concerns expressed by the opposition was that the amendments are "cosmetic" in nature and do not express the full aspirations of Sarawakians to restore other rights including greater autonomy, our right to our natural resources and also equitable development. 

These are important matters, important rights that need to be restored. However, such discussions will involve other articles and provisions either in the Federal Constitution or other laws that were passed under the previous administration.

The tabling of amendments of Article 1(2) was never meant to address all the issues and problems that we face in Sabah and Sarawak. 

No one amendment can solve it all as over the years, multiple amendments were made, multiple laws were passed that were unfair to Sarawak, and all these are under discussion under a high-level Special Cabinet Committee which comprises of the chief ministers of both the state governments of Sabah and Sarawak and their representatives. 

This committee also consists of the attorney-general of each state and the federal attorney-general, other legal minds, academicians and even activists from both political divides.

With this high-level committee already set up and all those discussions ongoing, there is no reason or excuse for the bill to be delayed or even referred to a Parliamentary Select Committee that basically only comprises of politicians that may not fully understand all the legal implications in the discussion. 

Even in the rounding up speech by the prime minister, he confirmed that all the concerns raised on other rights and autonomy are currently being discussed in the Special Cabinet Committee and have not been cast aside.

So the topic at hand is the amendments of Article 1(2) where the spirit of it is to affirm the rightful status of Sabah and Sarawak in the Federation. The intention was to restore our rightful status and to correct the wrong that was done in 1976 when we were downgraded to one of the 13 states in Malaysia. 

This is an important first step, not just "cosmetic" as it restores us to the original word and spirit of the Malaysian Agreement 1963 as envisioned by our forefathers and with that, we approach further discussions on a new status and platform as founding fathers in the federation.

That is why this is indeed a missed chance as we all had the opportunity to put our names in history to right the wrong that was done to Sabah and Sarawak since 1976. 

The federal government had shown their sincerity by taking all the steps and even took the risk to table it in Parliament even though we didn’t have the numbers. However, it is disappointing that egos and political affiliation cannot be put aside even though the matter involves the interests of our nation.

KELVIN YII is the MP for Bandar Kuching (DAP).

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

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