KUCHING: Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg today blamed the defeat of the Federal Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2019 in the Dewan Rakyat to “mishandling” by the staff of de facto law minister Liew Vui Keong.
He said the wording on the position of Sabah and Sarawak could have been better if the constitutional amendment was better managed by Liew’s secretariat.
“Initially, it was fine but we found that it was not done as we had expected,” he said when met after the closing ceremony for the certified integrity officer programme here today.
“I don’t think there would be a problem if there was a face-to-face discussion (between Sabah and Sarawak stakeholders and the federal government). We supported it in principle,” he added.
He said their proposal for the amendment was within the parameters of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) but we insists “MA63” must be mentioned in the amendment bill.
Abang Johari also acknowledged the sincerity of Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad in restoring the status of Sabah and Sarawak.
Meanwhile, Santubong MP Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said he was certain the constitutional amendment would be retabled again to enable Sabah, Sarawak and the peninsula to be considered as equal partners.
He said he believed the negotiations in regards to MA63 would continue in the Special Steering Cabinet Committee meeting.
“GPS will support the Bill if the spirit of MA63 is reflected and included in the amendment,” he said at a press conference here today, adding that there was no mention of equal partnership.
“We didn’t ask for so much. We only wanted it to be in accordance with the MA63 so that we can remember the spirit of MA63 whenever we speak about the law and constitution.
“You can ask any lawyer who had fought for the constitution whether they referred to the MA63 before. None,” Wan Junaidi said.
Gabungan Parti Sarawak is fighting for MA63 to be recognised by the federal government, he said.
“We are not trying to make enemies with Deputy Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Chong Chieng Jen or Works Minister Baru Bian.
“We are fighting for the same thing but don’t play politics,” he said, adding that Mahathir himself had also acknowledged that the Federal Constitution was based on the Federation of Malaya Agreement 1957.