‘GPS Co-operation With UMNO To Ensure Sarawak Remains A State’

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Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal places his support for the PH’s Article 1(2) constitutional amendment. What excuse has Sarawak GPS to object anymore, except for its personal ego and pride.

By CHONG CHIENG JEN
COMMENT: By defeating the MA63 Constitution Amendment Bill, GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak) have succeeded in embarrassing the Pakatan Harapan government but at the expense of Sarawak and Sabah. GPS might have achieved its political interest, but it has again done great injustice to Sarawakians who have made them the Sarawak Government.

The amendment bill proposed by PH Government in Parliament on Tuesday (April 9, 2019) was exactly the same as the version of 1963 Constitution, word for word. It is the most direct step to restore Sabah and Sarawak to its original position in the Federation when we formed Malaysia in 1963.

The wordings of Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution in 1963 are as follows:

“ 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 Terengganu; and
​(b)​The Borneo States, namely, Sabah and Sarawak; and
​(c)​the State of Singapore.”

CHONG CHIENG JEN

In 1976, the Barisan National government amended Article 1(2) to the following:
“The State of the Federation shall be Johore, Kedah, Kelantan, Malacca, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Penang, Perak, Perlis, Sabah, Sarawak, Selangor and Terengganu.”

On 10-4-2019, the amendment tabled by PH Government is worded as follows:

“ 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 Terengganu; and
​(b)​The Borneo States, namely, Sabah and Sarawak.

Except for one UMNO MP from Sabah (Bung Mokhtar), all Sabah MPs, including the independent Sabah MPs supported the Bill. The Chief Minister of Sabah, Shafie Apdal, came to Parliament to speak in support of and voted for the Bill.

On the other hand, the GPS abstained from voting. By doing so, GPS is in fact voting against the Bill because for any constitutional amendment bill to be passed, it requires 2/3rd of the number of MPs House to vote “yes”.

Therefore, when the Government could not get 148 (2/3rd of 222) votes in support of the Bill, the Bill was defeated.

In the whole debate and voting process of the Bill in Parliament last night, GPS is seen to be working closely with UMNO and PAS.

UMNO and PAS have no interest in Sabah and Sarawak. To them, the passing of this Bill will diminish the status of the states that they governed in relation to Sabah and Sarawak. They also have the vested interest to see to it that the PH Government be embarrassed so as to undermine the authority of the PH Government.

However, for GPS to go along with UMNO and PAS on this issue, that is absolutely shocking. It only goes to show that, though GPS is now out of BN, it is still working closely with UMNO and now PAS, even at the expense of Sarawak’s interest.

PH government may have suffered the embarrassment of having its Amendment Bill defeated, but what is more disheartening is that Sarawak lost a golden opportunity to put right the wrong that has been inflicted upon Sarawak 43 years ago.

It is thus the doing of GPS that today, we wake up with Sarawak still remaining one of the 13 states in Malaysia. The parties in GPS has done it once in 1976 together with UMNO to reduced Sarawak’s status to one of the 13 states in Malaysia.

Some 43 years later, GPS has again, co-operated with UMNO to ensure that Sarawak remains the status of one of the 13 states in Malaysia.

* Chong Chieng Jen is Deputy Minister for Domestic Trade and Consumer Affair/DAP Sarawak Chairman