Why was the word “Sarawakian” omitted from the Constitution?

By Emma Victoria

THE word “Sarawakian” is not at all mentioned in the amended State Constitution, paving the way for more non-Sarawakians to be elected to the State Legislative Assembly, said Michael Kong Feng Nian.

Kong, the special assistant to Sarawak DAP chairman, Chong Chieng Jen, said the wording of the amendment even allows Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud’s two step-sons to be elected into the Assembly.

““If we cannot have assemblymen with the proper understanding of the interpretation of laws, we are bound to have poorly worded legislation (or constitution) which affects the general public.”

He said Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian had claimed that the amendment was to ensure  only true Sarawakians can be elected as state assemblymen.

“Then, why reject Chong’s proposal to insert the word “Sarawakian” in the amendment?” he said in a statement.

“At present, we have many West Malaysians or Sabahans who were previously born in Sarawak (when their parents were posted here for work).

With the new amendment, now we may even see the children of these non-Sarawakians (but born in Sarawak) suddenly finding themselves the opportunity to contest and to be elected as a state assemblyman so long as he or she stays here for a period of time.

“GPS argues that such membership may be challenged in the court of law. However, why amend a law to leave room for a challenge in court, especially when the law is the state constitution?”

Kong said the disqualification of a member was subject to the approval of the state legislative assembly through a motion.

The court in the Pujut case had confirmed that any decision of the DUN Speaker was final and cannot be challenged in the court.

“Will any of the GPS assemblymen dare put up a motion to seek the disqualification of Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud’s step-sons or any non-Sarawakians, if he were chosen to stand and won in the state elections?” he questioned.

“Some of GPS staunchest supporters have admitted that the amendment could have been worded better.

If that is the case, why was there a need to rush it and not do it properly? Is there any ulterior motive or sheer incompetence in the drafting of the amendment?”