No need to amend Constitution for equal Sabah, Sarawak rights, says ex-speaker

Former Dewan Rakyat speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia says amending the constitution will only satisfy the ‘ego of certain quarters’.

BANGI: There is no need for the government to amend the Federal Constitution to restore the status of Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners with Peninsular Malaysia, former Dewan Rakyat speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia said.

Pandikar said Article 1(2) of the constitution already mentions that the states of the federation shall be Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Malacca, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Penang, Perak, Perlis, Sabah, Sarawak, Selangor and Terengganu.

He said the states in the peninsula were listed in one category because they were independent before 1967, while Sabah and Sarawak were in a different category as they were still British colonies.

“There is no reason to amend the article because the understanding from the time we gained independence is that Sabah and Sarawak are of equal status with other states in the federation of Malaya,” he said at a forum at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia today.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department VK Liew had previously said that the Cabinet had agreed to amend the constitution to restore the status of the two East Malaysian states as equal partners with those in the peninsula.

He said the proposed amendments to the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) would be tabled at the current Dewan Rakyat session.

Pandikar said the move to amend the constitution would only satisfy the “ego of certain quarters”.

He said the sentiments of both Sabahans and Sarawakians could have been fanned by leaders who wanted to win the general election and who “convinced” the people that their states had been “demoted”.

He also said the Pakatan Harapan government should hold a referendum in Sabah and Sarawak and ask the people whether they wanted MA63 or a new deal.

The other panellists at the forum were UKM’s Prof Mohd Agus Yusoff and Prof Faridah Jalil and Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii.