New bill to be tabled soon to restore equal status for Sabah, Sarawak

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad during his meeting with Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg (left) and Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal at Putrajaya yesterday.(Facebook pic)

KOTA KINABALU: A new bill is expected to be tabled in Parliament in March to restore the status of Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners to Malaya.

The federal, Sabah and Sarawak attorneys-general are looking at the proposed amendments, including their wording, de facto law minister Liew Vui Keong said today.

A first attempt at amending Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution, which will ensure that the two states will be equal partners with Peninsular Malaysia, was defeated at the Dewan Rakyat on April 9.

Pakatan Harapan had needed to secure a two-thirds majority to pass the bill but came 10 votes short after 138 MPs said “aye” and 59 abstained. There were 221 MPs in the house at the time.

Liew said that once the attorneys-general had agreed on the wording of the revised bill, he would bring it to the Cabinet for approval.

“I’m hopeful Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) will give their fullest support as Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg and Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal have been instrumental in this second move.

“Further, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has given his unconditional support,” he said in a text message to FMT.

Liew had said earlier in a Facebook post that the re-tabling of the bill to restore the status of Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners to Malaya was on course.

This was after a meeting between Mahathir and Shafie and Abang Johari in Putrajaya yesterday.

In his post, Liew said: “Good news – the Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution where Sabah and Sarawak are equal partners with Malaya will be tabled once again in the 2020 Parliament session, which is expected to start from March 9.

“Well done to Sabah and Sarawak. The people are the champions in this Malaysia Agreement 1963 fight.”

He said the leaders also discussed four issues under MA63.

Of the 21 issues under the agreement, he said, 17 had now been agreed upon between the federal and the Sabah and Sarawak governments.