PETALING JAYA: De facto law minister Liew Vui Keong has dismissed an opposition MP’s claim that Umno and PAS had abstained from voting on a constitutional amendment for Sabah and Sarawak as they wanted “more substance”.
Liew said a claim by Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin was “wholly untrue”.
Khairy had said that the opposition did not vote on the constitutional amendment to Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution last year as the amendment was “without substance”.
But Liew said that prior to the vote, there was only a single request from the opposition. Gabungan Parti Sarawak requested that the words “in accordance with the MA63” be inserted into the main clause instead of in the accompanying Explanatory Note.
“That was it. The opposition made no noble attempt to strive for greater substance as alluded by Khairy. There was no need for one,” he said in a statement.
The constitutional amendment to Article 1(2) tabled at the Dewan Rakyat in April last year sought to restore the status of Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners to Peninsular Malaysia.
While 138 Pakatan Harapan MPs including several independents voted in favour of the amendment, all Barisan Nasional MPs, including Khairy, and 19 others from GPS abstained.
Liew went on to say that a Special Cabinet Committee to review the Malaysia Agreement 1963, chaired by the prime minister, had resolved 17 of 21 issues, such as Sabah’s administrative authority over Pulau Sipadan and Pulau Ligitan; export duties for timber and forest produce and the state’s powers over healthcare among others.
The remaining four issues, he said, are expected to be resolved in the early months of 2020.
He urged Khairy to “cease misleading Sabahans and Sarawakians”.
He added that throughout Khairy’s tenure as a minister in the Barisan Nasional government, he did not once propose a constitutional amendment to safeguard the rights of Sabahans and Sarawakians.
“He should not now appear to champion their rights for the sake of political mileage.”