By Chris Maskilone
KUALA LUMPUR: The constitution amendment speaks volume of the fact that Malaysia is made up of three entities namely the 11 states, Sabah and Sarawak, said Datuk Liew Vui Keong.
The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said it was as clear as day that the amendment essentially puts Sabah and Sarawak back to the position in 1963.
“I wish to remind the critics of this major constitutional 2019 amendment to look at the MA63 and the Federal Constitution in totality but not in isolation.
“Sure, if one just look at the present form of the 2019 amendment, without guided eyes and trained mind, one would easily be misled into thinking that this amendment has little significance.
“If that’s the case, I’m deeply sorry with their lack of understanding of the matter at hand,” he said in the seminar at the Legislation and Judiciary Training Institute (Ilkap) here Friday.
He was explaining the reason that the amendment to Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution was written and amended in its present form.
He explained that the wordings appearing in (a) “the States of Malaya, namely” were not reintroduced because the terminology was not relevant to the present state of Malaya, and in (b) “the Borneo States, namely” were not reintroduced because it will have implication with other sovereign countries such as Brunei and Kalimantan of Indonesia, which are also part of Borneo.
Hence, the proposed 2019 Amendment defined “the States of the Federation shall be –
(a) Johore, Kedah, Kelantan, Malacca, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Penang, Perak, Perlis, Selangor and Trengganu; and
(b) Sabah and Sarawak.”
Liew advised detractors to also look at the Article 1(3) and (4) that has clearly spelt out the position of each States.
Earlier, he said under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 concluded between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Federation of Malaya, North Borneo (as Sabah was known then), Sarawak and Singapore it was agreed then that “the States Of the Federation shall be –
(a) the States Of Malaya, namely, Johore, Kedah, Kelantan, Malacca, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Penang, Perak, Perlis, Selangor and Trengganu; and
(b) the Borneo States, namely, Sabah and Sarawak; and
(c) the State of Singapore.”
The above was incorporated into Article 1 (2) of our Federal Constitution when Malaysia came into being in 1963.
However, when Singapore left Malaysia in 1965, the Federal Constitution was amended for the first time to delete sub-paragraph (c) of Article 1(2) which is (c) the State of Singapore.”
The definition of the “States of the Federation” remains undisturbed for 13 years until in 1976 when the definition of “the States of the Federation” was amended to make Sabah and Sarawak just as the same States of Johore, Kedah, Kelantan, Malacca, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Penang, Perak, Perlis, Selangor and Terengganu.”
The 1976 amendment took away the wordings “the States of Malaya, namely” and “the Borneo States, namely” from the original definition of the States of Federation of Malaysia and had received overwhelming support of both the then MPs of Sabah and Sarawak, he said.
“I have the Hansard to prove it. Why they didn’t object in the downgrading of the status of Sabah and Sarawak then? he asked.
Liew said the 1976 amendment stood still for 43 years and no attempt was made by the previous governments whether in Federal or the State Governments of Sabah and Sarawak to amend it.
It was not until the new Pakatan Harapan Federal Government together with the Warisan-led Sabah State Government came into power in May last year that things started to move.
‘In less than a year, a major effort is being made to restore the status of Sabah and Sarawak to its former position in 1963 in accordance with the spirit and intention of the MA63,” he said.
Liew who is also MP for Batu Sapi urged the people especially the critics to not quickly jump into conclusion without understanding the historical background of how Malaysia is formed and how the Federal Constitution was written.
“It goes without saying that history is the key to understanding the present and possibly the future because when we can compare the present and the past we see the desires of the legislature and our founding fathers in wanting Malaysia to be made up these three entities.
“It took us 43 years from 1976 to be at the threshold of history. If we don’t take this opportunity to put us back to the starting point, I do not think we’ll have another opportunity in a foreseeable future,” he said.
If the constitution amendment is defeated the opposition MPs in Sabah and Sarawak will go down in history as the one responsible to rejecting the constitution amendment in 2019 and made Sabah and Sarawak to remain as equal partners with the 11 states if the 2019, he said.
The second and third Reading of the 2019 constitution amendment Bill has been fixed on Tuesday (9 April 2019) in Parliament.
Block voting is expected after conclusion of debates by MPs which may stretch into the night.-SabahNewsToday