PETALING JAYA: The day the Federal Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2019 was defeated in the Dewan Rakyat will “haunt” Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) MPs for the rest of their lives, Sarawak PKR said tonight.
“April 9, 2019 will stand as a blot in the history of Sarawak,” said the state party’s vice-chairman See Chee How, referring to Putrajaya’s failure on Tuesday to get enough votes to pass the historic bill.
“This day will haunt the 19 GPS MPs for the rest of their lives if there is no more opportunity in future to redeem themselves and vote for the restoration of Sarawak as an equal partner in Malaysia.”
The Batu Lintang assemblyman said GPS had forced Sarawak to remain as a “mere state” among the 13 states of Malaysia despite a chance to revert both Sabah and Sarawak to “Bornean states” as promised.
“It will be remembered as the darkest day of GPS,” he said in a statement, claiming the state’s ruling coalition had “failed to defend the rights of Sarawak and Sarawakians” when they did not vote in Parliament yesterday.
The bill was defeated in the lower house last night after the government secured only 138 votes, 10 short of the two-thirds majority required to pass the bill.
See said Pakatan Harapan agreed that a 1976 constitutional amendment had “wrongly relegated” Sarawak and Sabah as states — an “injustice” inflicted on their people for 43 years.
“It is most unfortunate that it was the 19 MPs of GPS who had chosen not to vote in favour of the amendment. This caused the constitutional amendment to fail,” he said.
“To right the wrong of the last 43 years has been the aspiration and wishes of all Sarawakians and Sabahans.
“They have been eagerly waiting for the outcome of the amendment, hoping that the politicians will discard their political and party differences to put things right for Sarawak and Sabah.”
See said he found it “unreal and weird” that any Sarawakian MP, despite being highly educated, would “choose not to respect the Sarawakian aspiration” and get Sarawak its equal partner status.
The constitutional amendment bill had sought to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution to restore Sarawak’s position as an equal partner in the formation of Malaysia, in the spirit of MA63, he added.
He trained his guns at MPs who sided with Umno and PAS when the bill was tabled in Parliament, saying this “political alliance” will cost GPS dearly in the 2021 Sarawak state elections.
He also expressed hope that the new government will continue its efforts in restoring Sarawak and Sabah’s rightful positions under the Malaysia Agreement 1963, pointing to its steering committee meetings.
GPS MPs and opposition lawmakers from Sabah had asked for the bill to be referred to a special select committee and passed in the Sabah and Sarawak state assemblies first before being tabled in Parliament.