Opposition opposed amendment bill for the sake of opposing, says Sabah MP

PETALING JAYA: A Sabah MP has accused opposition MPs of opposing the bill to amend the Federal Constitution “for the sake of opposing”, saying they should have voted according to their conscience instead of abstaining.

Beluran MP Ronald Kiandee said those in the opposition parties and Gabungan Parti Sarawak, the ruling coalition in Sarawak, had politicised the issue at the expense of what would have been a “landmark first step” to restoring the rights of the two states.

“It is the democratic right of any MP to vote during the voting process for bills.

“There was no reason for the members of the opposition to oppose the proposed amendments as a select committee could have been created afterwards,” he told FMT.

The Federal Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2019 was defeated in the Dewan Rakyat last night with only 138 MPs supporting it, 10 short of the two-thirds majority needed. Fifty-nine MPs abstained from voting.

Former deputy Dewan Rakyat speaker Ronald Kiandee says MPs have a duty to vote on bills in the lower house.

Kiandee, who recently joined PPBM, said the proposed amendment to Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution would reinstate Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners with the peninsula, reflecting the spirit of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

“The amendment would have restored the original wording as it was in the constitution pursuant to MA63,” the former deputy Dewan Rakyat speaker said.

He said the adjustment to Article 1(2) in 1976 had put all 13 states in a single group within the federation. The 2019 bill, meanwhile, would have restored the rights of Sabah and Sarawak as founding members of the federation.

On allegations that the Pakatan Harapan government had attempted to bulldoze the bill through, Kiandee said the truth was there was nothing left to negotiate.

“The opposition failed to amend what was done in 1976 and remained rigid in their misguided beliefs.”

He said this showed that there was no difference between them and those who voted in 1976 to “downgrade the status of Sabah and Sarawak”.