By John Isaac
IF the proposed amendments to Article 160 of the Federal Constitution are not completed prior to the next general election, all parties which decide to join the race should, for the sake of Sarawak’s interest, declare their stand plainly and distinctly via electoral manifestos.
In making the call, Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) said this would confirm whether they agreed or disagreed with Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS)’s proposal to review the MA63 and amend Article 160 of the Federal Constitution.
“This is to ensure the interpretation of the Federation of Malaysia will eventually be in congruence with the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), not to mean the federation established under the Federation of Malaya Agreement 1957.
“As for those contesting in Sarawak, the parties as well as the individual candidates should do the same. They also should pledge to fellow Sarawakians and tell our people what are they going to atone for any possible breach of trust later,” SUPP president, Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian said in a statement.
He said it is a fact that the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government would not be able to deliver any amendment to the Federal Constitution without the collective support of the members of Parliament.
Dr Sim pointed out that for Sarawak especially, such assurance for election pledges is important as too many electoral promises had been breached by political parties and their candidates in recent years.
“Pakatan Harapan is infamous for treating their pledges made to Sarawak at the most a handsome but void blank cheque.
“Many of their promises were MA63 related, they talked big and shouted loud about the constitutional rights and resources of Sarawakians in electoral campaigns, yet the record shows they have neglected Sarawak’s interests during their stint as the federal government,” he said.
Dr Sim said the previous PH government had tabled a constitutional amendment bill in April 2019 on the status of Sabah and Sarawak, but it was a “political ploy”, as MA63 was neither touched nor mentioned.
“To GPS, the proposed amendment by the PH government was at best a cosmetic change or political ploy, to show that PH had fulfilled its election manifesto … we want something more substantive, solid and founded on the spirit of MA63.
“Since PH did not correct the mistake made in the 1976 constitutional amendment, MPs from GPS refused to support the bill, and the PH Federal Government didn’t accept GPS’s counter-proposal, so the situation was deadlocked. The farce was more to score political points for PH, and it discarded the spirit of MA63 and the bill failed,” he said.
Dr Sim said that Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s open statement in declaring “Sarawak was not a state; it is a ‘wilayah’ (region)”, is a meaningful and significant step towards the target to achieve the constitutional status of Sarawak as one of the three regions of Malaysia as enshrined in MA63.
“To most of us, it looks like the light at the end of the tunnel when the Prime Minister openly declared it on Thursday. Yet it merely signifies a turning point, just a new beginning of our journey to settle various long-pending issues of MA63 with the federal government.
“To proceed on our mission, to strive for our goal, we need our beloved Sarawakians to stand together and be prepared for the arduous journey. We should not forget our roots in Sarawak,” he said.