No dignity in abstaining, MPs told on amendment bill

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad presents the Federal Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2019 in the Dewan Rakyat. The bill was defeated last night after nearly seven hours of debate. (Bernama pic)

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah leaders from the ruling coalition have criticised the 59 MPs who chose to abstain from voting on the Federal Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2019, which sought to restore the status of Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners.

Warisan deputy president Darell Leiking said these MPs did not even have the dignity to reject or support the bill, which was defeated in the Dewan Rakyat last night.

“Their choice to abstain is evidence that they have no political stand or dignity towards their voters,” he told FMT.

“It was a historical moment where Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad read out the rationale behind amending the constitution which would have reinstated us to the pre-1976 amendment.”

A total of 138 MPs voted for the amendment while 59 abstained. There are 221 MPs in the lower house. Two-thirds, or 148 votes, were needed to pass the constitutional amendment.

Leiking, who is international trade and industry minister, said those who abstained had “betrayed” the efforts to reinstate the positions of Sabah, Sarawak and Malaya as intended in 1963.

“In Parliament, you have to make a decision,” the Penampang MP added.

Sabah DAP secretary Chan Foong Hin said it was a “sad day”.

“The reason they didn’t vote is very selfish,” the Kota Kinabalu MP told FMT. “They didn’t reject, but they did not support (the bill), either.

“What kind of message do they want to pass to the public?”

But Karanaan assemblyman Masidi Manjun, who recently joined PPBM, said the result came as no surprise.

“Judging from the comments of MPs, especially from Sabah and Sarawak, as well as legal opinions in newspapers and online news after the bill was tabled in Parliament, the defeat was not entirely unexpected,” he said.