Loopholes in amended bill allow non-Sarawakians to be Assemblymen

By Emma Victoria

THERE are numerous loopholes to allow non-Sarawakians to be elected as state assemblymen after the state assembly passed the Constitution of the State of Sarawak (Amendment) Bill 2020 to define ‘resident in the state’ yesterday.

Sarawak DAP Chairman Chong Chieng Jen said among the qualifying criteria included citizens “born in Sarawak” or citizens born outside Sarawak with one of both parents born in Sarawak and also a normally resident in the state.

He said many West Malaysians would have fulfilled the criteria as citizens ‘born in Sarawak’ as many government servants (police, army, teachers, doctor, nurses) who were transferred to the state and had also gave birth here.

“Over 57 years, there must be tens of thousands of children “born in Sarawak” and if they are normally resident in the state, they will be eligible to be elected as a state assemblyman despite them being actually a West Malaysian or a Sabahan,” he said in a statement.

“The amended bill is effectively opening up the membership of the Sarawak state assembly to non-Sarawakians,” he said.

“As a responsible opposition, DAP and PSB had proposed to amend the second part of the bill by substituting the words “whose parents or either of them was born in the state” with “whose parents or either of them is a Sarawakian”, which will close all doors to non-Sarawakians to be elected into the state assembly,” he said.

The Kota Sentosa assemblyman had tabled his motion to amend the second part of the Amendment Bill tabled yesterday (Nov 12), however, it had been rejected for failure to provide a 10-day-notice.

“How can 10-day notice be given when we only received a copy of the second version of the Amendment Bill, a day before (Nov 11) and the matter was to be debated and put to vote the next day (Nov 12)?”

Besides, instead of having a division to count the vote, the Speaker Datuk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar resorted to voting to get the bill passed.

“This is unprecedented and unconstitutional,” he said.

For an amendment to the Constitution, Chong said, there must be at least two-thirds of the members supporting such a bill and every vote must be counted and recorded.  By doing so, everyone who voted will be recorded in the Hansard and it will go down in history how they voted.

He said voice-voting would not record the number of “yes” vote or “no” votes and the individual or member of the state assembly who had voted.

“Why is the Speaker so reluctant to have division voting and have the individual ADUNs’ names recorded as supporting this amendment bill?  Do the GPS ADUNs not want their names recorded in the Hansard for supporting the amendment bill?

“With the passing of the second version of the bill by the Sarawak assembly, any Malaysian, so long as one of his parents or both was born in Sarawak, regardless whether he is a Sarawakian, if he normally resides in Sarawak, he is eligible to be elected as a member of Sarawak DUN.

“This is the latest incident of the erosion of Sarawakians’ rights and the culprit is none other than the GPS government,” he said.