S4S urges unity on restoring Sabah, Sarawak status

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KUCHING: Sarawak 4 Sarawakians (S4S) has urged lawmakers in the state to work together on restoring Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution to its pre-13 July, 1976 status.

S4S Spokesman, Peter John Jaban, pointed out in a statement that Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem had taken the most decisive step on Article 1(2) so far. The opposition should not differ with the Sarawak Government on the issue, stressed the human rights advocate.

“Adenan is not acting in the Sarawak Assembly, as charged by Bandar Kuching MP Chong Chieng Jen in (a report in) Malaysiakini on Wednesday,” said Jaban.

He was referring to a proposed motion on Article 1(2) in the Sarawak Assembly.

The motion seeks to restore the status of Sarawak (and Sabah) as equal partners of Malaya in the Federation of Malaysia.

A vote in the Federal Parliament on the Article, as suggested by Chong, should not be the first step, argued Jaban.

“The motion in the Sarawak Assembly is the right and first step,” he said. “It won’t be the last.”

He pointed out that the Federal Government, led by the Barisan Nasional (BN), was a formidable foe.

“The weightage in Parliament is in favour of the BN in Malaya and against the motion,” said Jaban. “Sabah and Sarawak have only 57 MPs in the 222-seat Malaysian Parliament.”

It’s clear the odds are stacked against the Borneo MPs, he cautioned.

Nevertheless, he added, there were other options open to Sarawak, including judicial and political.

Once the motion on Article 1(2) is in place, he feels, Sarawak can move on to the Federal Court if it fails in Parliament.

He thinks Sarawak should set up a bi-partisan committee on Article 1(2).

“Opposition politicians must set aside their differences on the motion,” said Jaban. “Autonomy should not be the issue on which to differ.”

He suggested the opposition continue to differ with the Sarawak Government on other issues. These include land rights, rural connectivity, the budget allocation, and even the bus service, said Jaban.

After 13 July, 1976, Sabah and Sarawak were listed in the Federal Constitution as the 12th and 13th states in the Federation of Malaya (now Malaysia)

Article 160 of the Federal Constitution defines “Federation” as that set up by the Federation of Malaya Agreement 1948 and reinforced by the Federation of Malaya Independence Act 1957.

Sabah and Sarawak came together with Singapore and Malaya on Sept 16, 1963, vide the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) to form the Federation of Malaysia.

MA63 is an international agreement and treaty signed by the four countries and the United Kingdom. It has been lodged with the UN Secretary-General.