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Fresh bill on Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution to be tabled next year

A fresh bill to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution will be tabled during Dewan Rakyat's March session.

This followed discussions between Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Sabah Chief Minister Mohd Shafie Apdal and Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Abang Openg in Putrajaya today.

According to Law Minister Liew Vui Keong (photo, above), 17 out of 21 contentious issues identified by the special cabinet committee to review the implementation of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 had been agreed upon during the meeting.

Four other issues remain in "active discussion". In view of this, Liew urged MPs to finally pass the bill when it is tabled again.

"I call on all MPs to lend bipartisan support to this sacrosanct amendment in view of its grave importance to the status of Sabah and Sarawak in the federation, and its place close to the hearts of each and every Sabahan and Sarawakian," he said in a statement.

On April 9, the government was just 10 votes shy of the two-thirds requirement to pass the constitutional amendment bill.

The intention of the bill was to "restore" Sabah and Sarawak's status as "equal partners" with Malaya by restoring Article 1(2) to its original form in 1963.

Most of the opposition MPs abstained from the vote, save for three from Sabah.

Some opposition MPs claimed that the move was merely involved "cosmetic changes" and demanded that other provisions within the Malaysia Agreement 1963 be recognised first.

Following this, Putrajaya agreed to engage the Sarawakian and Sabahan MPs in dialogue.

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