Why the hurry to amend bill, ask opposition MPs

BN’s Bung Moktar Radin says the proposed amendment to the Federal Constitution should be referred to a parliament select committee.

KUALA LUMPUR: Several MPs today called for the proposed amendment to Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution to be discussed more extensively, with one of them suggesting it should first be referred to a parliamentary select committee.

Questioning the rush to push the amendment through, Bung Moktar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan) said the MPs were determining the future of the country and where the next generation was heading.

“It is not for us. Why the hurry to determine a better future for our children?” he asked during the debate on the Federal Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2019, which was tabled for its second reading today.

“I would rather see the amendment, if possible, tightened through a select committee. We can choose MPs who are wise to determine where we are heading.

“Let us sit on the select committee. We need to debate and discuss all the needs, in the interest of Sabah and Sarawak. There are differing claims.”

Anwar Ibrahim (PH-Port Dickson) said while he was open to the bill being brought to a select committee, the amendment was “in nature very basic”.

“So what is there to dispute?” he asked.

The PKR president criticised the previous administration for not taking action to restore equal rights to Sabah and Sarawak, and said the matter was only given prominence and priority when Dr Mahathir Mohamad began his tenure as prime minister after the general election last year.

“This amendment to the constitution is to address a historical mistake made in the past,” he said.

At this juncture, Nancy Shukri (GPS-Batang Sadong) said the Sarawak and Sabah opposition parties “never disagreed with the amendment”.

“What we are asking is for the matter to be discussed more extensively,” she said.

Anwar then said if they agreed with the amendment, they should allow the bill to be passed first as this was a fundamental matter.

Mohd Shafie Apdal (Warisan-Semporna) agreed with Anwar, saying the official document which gives legitimacy to the existence of Sabah and Malaysia should be amended first.

“We should, at the very least, execute the fundamental point, notably the legitimacy of Sabah,” he said.

Shafie asked if Sabah and Sarawak were willing to wait another 55 years before their position was restored.

He said there were many issues that needed to be looked into, such as stamp duty, autonomy and equal distribution of wealth.

He brushed off arguments by Nancy, Annuar Musa (BN-Ketereh) and Fadillah Yusof (GPS-Petrajaya) that the proposed amendment did not even touch on MA63, and urged the MPs not to politicise the matter and to support the bill.

Anifah Aman (Independent-Kimanis) said that any change should not be cosmetic and must be explained properly as confusion could arise.

Ronald Kiandee (PH-Beluran) questioned the reservations expressed by the Sabah and Sarawak lawmakers.

“You are the ones who have been pushing for a change but now you are expressing reservations,” he said.