KOTA KINABALU: Sabah opposition leader Jeffrey Kitingan has set out several proposals on restoring the status of Sabah and Sarawak and urged the federal government to defer the amendment of Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution for more consultations with all stakeholders.
Kitingan, who is MP for Keningau, said people in both states were eagerly awaiting the proposed amendment and contended there were reservations because the matter seems to be “shrouded in secrecy”.
Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution is to be amended to restore the status of Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners with Malaya in forming the federation of Malaysia.
The change is part of demands made by leaders of Sabah and Sarawak for the federal government to adhere to the terms of the Malaysia Agreement of 1963 (commonly referred to as MA63).
Kitingan said Article 1(2) and the Malaysia Agreement was the fundamental basis of the formation of the federation. “Its proposed amendment should not be rushed. Sufficient space should be given to all stakeholders and parties to study and deliberate on any proposed amendment,” he said in a statement.
He said a federal cabinet committee on MA63 is scheduled to present its final report in June or July, and any amendment to Article 1(2) should be tabled together with any others to be proposed later.
Sarawak DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen had previously confirmed that the bill to amend Article 1(2) would be tabled in Parliament on April 8 and 9.
Kitingan said many other amendments would be needed in order to restore an equal partnership.
He set out several suggestions, among them:
- Article 160 defined “federation” by reference to the Federation of Malaya Agreement 1957, which would only include the peninsula.
- The Malaysian flag should be changed to reflect a federation of three nation states and not 13 states and the federal territories.
- The heads of state of Sabah and Sarawak should be styled as the “Yang DiPertua Negara” as was the case in 1963;
- Each of the three nation states should have a head of state, and there should be a federal head of state for Malaysia.
- The representation of MPs, both elected representatives and senators – as well as the Cabinet – should be revised to reflect the equal partnership.
Kitingan, who is president of Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku, said his proposals were presented merely as food for thought.
“True equal partnership between Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak is not just a simple amendment of Article 1(2). He contended that the amendment of Article 1(2) in 1976 was not constitutional as it was done without the consultation and consent of Sabah and Sarawak.
“Accordingly, whether it is revoked or amended, it has no valid or legal effect on the status of Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners.”
Closer to home, he said the Sabah government had failed to involve all stakeholders in the deliberations. Sabah should emulate the Sarawak government’s actions and sincerity by involving members of the opposition and civil society.
“Unfortunately, in Sabah, the MA63 committee only comprises government and pro-government leaders. Many of them are not ardent fighters or supporters of Sabah’s rights in Malaysia.
“Worse still, many of them have in the past been pro-Malaya and pro-federalist as well as were against the rights of Sabah, MA63 and the 20-Points,” Jeffrey claimed.
He added any amendments should first be tabled and debated in the Sabah legislative assembly after the bi-partisan deliberations.