Minister questions GPS’ insistence on 6 words in constitutional amendment

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Liew Vui Keong says Attorney-General Tommy Thomas had advised against the inclusion of the words as this would complicate matters.

PUTRAJAYA: Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Liew Vui Keong has slammed Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) MPs over their insistence on including six words in the constitutional amendment on the position of Sabah and Sarawak.

The six words are pursuant to the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

Liew said he could not understand GPS’ rationale in wanting the words included when these were never part of the Federal Constitution amendment in 1963 following the formation of Malaysia.

Earlier this week, the Federal Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2019 was defeated when tabled in the Dewan Rakyat.

A total of 138 MPs voted for the bill, just 10 votes short of the two-thirds majority needed, with 59 MPs abstaining.

Liew, who is de facto law minister, said Attorney-General Tommy Thomas had advised against the inclusion of the words as this would complicate matters.

However, all 19 GPS MPs had insisted on the inclusion of the six words.

“The six words were not put in by our founding fathers,” said Liew at a press conference at his office in Putrajaya.

“Why do you want to put it in now when our forefathers never saw its importance or attached significance to them?

“We went back to the same wording as in 1963; nothing more, nothing less.

“Why insist (on the six words) when it wasn’t there before. I don’t understand the rationale.”

Liew said Singapore was part of MA63 and if the six words were to be included, then the Independence of Singapore Agreement 1965 would need to be included in the constitution.

“So why do they want it to be included now? This is constitutionally and legally not possible.”

He said the government had already included in the explanatory note, as part of the amendment bill, that the amendment was being made in line with the spirit of MA63.

This, he said, was “good enough” as it was binding.

He also said whoever wanted to look into the provision could also refer to the Hansard to see the government’s intention in amending the bill.

He added that Putrajaya needs a two-thirds majority to push for any amendment.

Unless GPS representatives were willing to support any such amendment, he said he could not see the bill being tabled again anytime soon, as the PH government did not have the two-thirds majority.

Absence of 4 PH MPs

He also said the absence of four PH MPs during the tabling was raised at today’s Cabinet meeting.

The four absent were Maszlee Malik (Simpang Renggam), Noor Amin Ahmad (Kangar), Shamsul Iskandar (Hang Tuah Jaya) and Muslimin Yahya (Sungai Besar).

“One or two had requested to attend meetings overseas.

“On principle, when the prime minister issues instructions to MPs, ministers and deputy ministers must be present. This should be respected.”

Liew said he would leave it to the respective party whips to take action against those who were absent.