By STEPHEN WONG
COMMENT: Following the Cabinet’s decision in approving the tabling of the constitutional amendment for the restoration of Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners of the Federation, I want to express my gratitude and joy as I have tried to do the same three years ago in September 2016 by submitting a private bill to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution to reinstate Sabah and Sarawak as equal status with the Peninsula.
Sabah DAP also concurs with our Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Panglima Haji Mohd Shafie Apdal’s statement that the constitutional amendment is of vital and utmost significance to Sabah, and carries with its implementation, a profound impact to the future of the state.
My private bill motion was rejected by the Parliament under previous government three years ago. Then we were in the opposition. I still remember trying to get the support from the previous ruling MPs from Sabah and Sarawak, in the hope that they will unite forces to push the amendment forward in Parliament.
But my efforts was responded with scorn from Barisan Nasional members who even had the audacity to accuse me of being ignorant.
The private bill I proposed was to seek the revision of the Federal Constitution by the Lower House, to restore and revive the equal partnership granted to Sabah and Sarawak back to 1976 Federal Constitution. The bill proposes to change Sabah and Sarawak from one of thirteen states in the first article of the Constitution to one of three parties of the Federation.
The proposed amendment reads: “(a) The states of the Federation established under the Federation of Malaya Agreement 1957, namely, Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Pulau Pinang, Perak, Perlis, Selangor and Terengganu; (b) Sabah; (c) Sarawak.
It is worth mentioning that the current constitutional clause that reduced the status of Sabah and Sarawak was amended in 1976.
At that time, the members who opposed the amendment were four members of the Democratic Action Party, including the current MP for Puteri Iskandar, Lim Kit Siang.
DAP has always struggled for a fair and equal Malaysia for more than half a century.
It is now time to rectify the mistake that was made 43 years ago by submitting the amendment to Parliament once again. It is gratifying to see the struggles DAP Sabah has gone through just to restore Sabah and Sarawak equal partnership status through federal reforms coming into fruition.
This constitutional amendment would be impossible if it wasn’t because of the new government that the people elected.
In any event, the constitutional amendment will be formally submitted to the Parliament. I urge all Sabah and Sarawak MPs to unite in supporting the constitutional amendment and taking the first step to rebuild an equal Malaysia for all.
* Stephen Wong is Minister of Health and People’s Wellbeing, Member of Parliament for Sandakan and DAP Sabah Chairman
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