Constitutional amendment bill too politicised, says Sabah opposition

Parti Kerjasama Anak Negeri president Henrynus Amin. (Bernama pic)

KOTA KINABALU: Parti Kerjasama Anak Negeri has described the defeat of the constitutional amendment of Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution as a huge setback and a sobering disappointment for the people of Sabah and Sarawak.

Its president, Henrynus Amin, said most Sabahans expected strong bipartisan support for the amendment bill after the Cabinet relented to opposition pressure to follow the wording of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

The wording for the constitutional amendment bill was changed during the second reading in Parliament.

“Given the significance of the constitutional amendment, the opposition MPs, in spite of political differences, should not have abstained from voting to deliberately deny the two-thirds majority required for the successful passage of the bill in Parliament.”

He feared the failure of the constitutional amendment would have far-reaching implications on future state-federal government relations.

He said without bipartisan support, he does not see how Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who is racing against time due to his age, will be able to fulfil Pakatan Harapan’s election promises to the two Borneon states during his term in office.

He said Mahathir made two other remarks during his speech that deserved bipartisan support.

“He reaffirmed the Federation of Malaysia as the partnership of the Federation of Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak, not a partnership of 13 states, as tacitly implied by some opposition MPs from Umno or PAS during the debate.

“Lastly, he openly declared and reaffirmed the commitment of the Pakatan Harapan government to further discuss and resolve issues related to Sabah and Sarawak’s grievances on MA63 through a Cabinet or parliamentary select committee,” he said.

Therefore, Amin said, despite the defeat of the bill, his party is thankful to the prime minister for “setting the record straight” on Sabah and Sarawak’s constitutional status as two of the three equal partners of Malaysia.

At the same time, he agreed with the views of Sabah and Sarawak opposition MPs that issues related to MA63 should first be tabled at the state assemblies.

“It should be tabled for bipartisan deliberation at the state assemblies so that their collective views can be taken into account,” he said.