KUCHING: Batang Sadong MP Nancy Shukri said the Federal Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2019 would have passed in Parliament if the government had allotted more time for the leaders of Sabah and Sarawak to discuss this matter.
She said leaders in both states had been asking de facto law minister Liew Vui Keong to defer the proposed amendment as they wanted it to be a comprehensive one.
“We wanted it to be referred to a parliamentary select committee because this will give the stakeholders from Sabah, Sarawak and Malaya an opportunity to sit down and deliberate on the bill itself,” she told FMT.
She said Liew should have taken their call for more time into account because amending the Federal Constitution requires a two-thirds majority.
“We really wanted the bill to go through but it must incorporate our proposed amendment, to be in accordance with the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
“But they (federal government) only had their own personal interests in mind.
“We did not say that we do not want to support the bill,” she told FMT.
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.
Fifty-nine out of the total 221 MPs abstained from voting for the bill.
Nancy said the amendment to Article 1(2) of the Constitution must come together with the amendment to Article 160(2) on the definition of the “federation”.
“Restoring only the state’s position does not mean anything. It’s like promoting a person to a higher position with limited power,” she said.
Nancy then accused Liew of hastily making the amendments without following proper procedures.
“He (Liew) thought that he could buy our support over lunch and dinner. This is a serious business. We are talking about an amendment to the Federal Constitution.
“If he has anything serious to discuss with us, then do it at Parliament. We never got the opportunity because he only wanted to convey what he wanted to do and that’s not the right approach.”
However, she said, with or without the amendment, Sabah and Sarawak could still claim their rights under the Federal Constitution.
Sarawak, she said, is more interested in claiming its rights and earning more for the development of the people and state.
“If Sabah is not interested, we are interested to do it. We don’t play politics and I’m proud that we stood strong fighting for the interests of Sarawakians.”
SUPP president Dr Sim Kui Hian agreed with Nancy and said the defeated bill was a result of turning a deaf ear to Sarawak’s demand to also amend the definition of “federation” in Article 160.
In a statement, Sim said Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) does not oppose the amendment bill but merely wanted all issues pertaining to Sabah and Sarawak rights to be ironed out, including having a third of parliamentary representatives and one-third share of national resources and revenue.
He claimed Stampin MP Chong Chieng Jen was a huge letdown to Sarawakians when he agreed to the “cosmetic” changes in the bill, ignoring the failure of the government to mention the MA63 in the amendment bill.
Mulu assemblyman Gerawat Gala echoed the same sentiments and said the constitutional amendment bill should be re-tabled as soon as possible.
“The amendment is merely ‘cosmetic’. There are more important things to be sorted out.”
He said the government should renegotiate with Sabah and Sarawak stakeholders and amend other fundamental laws, especially Article 160(2) of the Federal Constitution.