KUCHING: A PKR motion in the state assembly that the state make a stand to reverse the amendment to Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution in 1976 that downgraded Sarawak to a mere state has been thrown out.
This is because the state government is already in negotiations with the federal government to settle this issue.
Deputy Chief Minister James Masing said this in response to the tabling of the motion by Sarawak PKR leader Baru Bian.
He said a task force is already discussing the devolution of powers.
Last December, the Sarawak assembly unanimously approved a motion mandating that the state government discuss with the federal administration the conditions set out by the state during the formation of Malaysia in 1963.
That motion, which was brought forward by Masing himself, called on the state government to be fully committed in safeguarding the special interests of the state.
It received bipartisan support from 61 state lawmakers who sought the conditions laid out in the Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) report 1962 to be implemented in full to ensure the rights and special interests of Sarawak citizens were upheld and protected.
Commenting on today’s decision, Baru said state representatives were unable to ask questions in the state assembly regarding how far talks were proceeding.
“We were really shocked that we cannot even ask questions on the justifications made by the deputy chief minister,” Baru told FMT.
“His response was that the proposal was solely about the devolution of powers, which it is not.
“My motion in particular was to declare the 1976 amendment as illegal as Sarawak did not give its consent. We wanted it to be recorded,” said Baru.
Prior to the 1976 amendment, Article 1(2) had listed Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners of Malaya. After 1976, Sabah and Sarawak were categorised as one of 13 Federated States.
PKR’s motion was to call on the state government to make strong representation that Parliament agree to take steps to restore Article 1(2) to its original form, as set down in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), and to seek legal redress in court should the parliamentary response fail.
Baru had announced he would present such a motion on Oct 20. On Nov 1, Chief Minister Adenan Satem announced the state BN would present a comprehensive motion covering all aspects of Sarawak rights under the MA63, the Malaysia Act, Malaysia Inter-Governmental Committee Report and the Cobbold Commission Report.
However, last week, Adenan announced the state BN would be dropping the motion after public assurances by Prime Minister Najib Razak that the federal government was willing to address grievances relating to MA63 as long as the issue of secession was not raised.
“Today’s move was not proper. His (Masing) action is not consistent with the statements made by the state government.
“By shutting us up, it’s as though they are saying the 1976 amendment was valid because just recently, the chief minister (Adenan) agreed that the Sarawak government never gave its consent (in 1976).
“What is the position of the state government now? It’s neither here nor there. Why are they afraid? Why are they not willing to make a stand?” Baru said.
The Sarawak assembly sits until Nov 30. - FMT