More clarity needed on revised Sarawak Constitution

Michael Kong

By John Isaac

HAD the DAP and PSB not harped on the anomalies in the initial proposed amendment to the Constitution of the State of Sarawak (Amendment) Bill 2020, it would have been passed in its original form.

Michael Kong, who is the special assistant to Sarawak DAP chairman, Chong Chieng Jen said following criticism from DAP and PSB, the state government (GPS) reverted to the drawing board and redrafted the amendment.

The new proposed amendment is much improved and captures the intention of both sides of the political divide.

“Under the new proposed amendment only two categories of persons qualify as resident in the state, namely (1) a citizen born in the state of Sarawak whose parents or either of them is also born in the state and he is normally resident in the state, or (2) a citizen not born in the state whose parents or either of them was born in the state and he is normally resident in the state,” he said.

Michael said the new proposed amendment though an improved version to the original proposed amendment, still leaves much to be desired.

“In the words of GPS leaders, only Sarawakians know what is best for Sarawakians. Then, why is the word “Sarawakian” not included in the amendment?

“On top of that, I believe there must be clarity on the amount of time spent in Sarawak prior to be nominated to be a member,” he said.

Without the clarity, he said a person born in West Malaysia or Sabah to a parent who is born in Sarawak (but not a Sarawakian) and who has spent his entire life outside the state but returns in the 1 year before election may now be a member of the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly.

“Is GPS now saying such a person understands the plight of Sarawakians and is loyal to Sarawak?

“Members from DAP and PSB have all agreed that the exclusivity to be a member of the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly shall only be reserved for Sarawakians.

“How the constitution should be drafted in order to reemphasis this and to avoid any further misinterpretation is for the drafters to sit and discuss among themselves,” said Michael.

He said an amendment especially to the constitution should not be rushed without consultation from both sides of the political divide.

“If members of GPS needed the input from other parties and amenable to a discussion with members of the opposition, we would have been more than willing to sit down to deliberate together because this is for the best interests of Sarawakians,” he added.