KUCHING (May 9): The Sarawak Government will render full cooperation to the Parliamentary Select Committee on the amendments to the Federal Constitution in respect of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA 63).
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said this was to ensure the amendments to Article 1 (2) unanimously agreed upon would be incorporated into any Bill to amend the Constitution for tabling in Parliament.
“The State Government and the people must, at all times, stay vigilant to prevent any erosion of our constitutional rights and safeguards. We Sarawakians must stand united and be bold in the defence of our constitutional rights and the special position of Sarawak within the Federation.
“My late predecessor, Pehin Sri Adenan Satem started this process of reclaiming our rights and revenues which had been granted or assigned to Sarawak when Sarawak agreed to the formation of Malaysia.
“I want to continue what the late Adenan Satem had initiated, with the united support of all Sarawakians as expressed through their representatives in this august House,” he said in his winding-up speech for his Ministry at the State Legislative Assembly here today.
Abang Johari said State representatives on April 30, unanimously passed the Motion proposed by Samariang Assemblywoman and Assistant Minister for Law, State-Federal Relations and Project Monitoring Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali.
With this mandate, he said, the State Government would through the ongoing discussions with the Federal Government on the implementation of the MA 63, seek amendments to the Federal Constitution.
He said the amendments, among others, would ensure that Sarawak’s legislative and executive powers and the sources of revenues provided and assigned to it were securely safeguarded.
“It would also provide adequate protection against any encroachment or erosion of the state’s constitutional rights and safeguards,” he said.
He said in fulfilling the aspirations of all Sarawakians, the State Government would ensure that Sarawak’s constitutional position in Malaysia is not similar to the States in the Peninsular Malaysia, with due recognition being accorded to MA 63, of which Sarawak is a party.
Abang Johari said the recent Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2019 introduced in Parliament on April 4 to amend Article 1(2) did not meet fundamental objectives particularly the failure to accord recognition to the fact that Malaysia is a federation formed by virtue of MA 63.
“Therefore, the State Government was not able to support the Bill aimed solely to amend Article 1(2) and the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) MPs had to abstain from voting on this Bill after their proposal to have the Bill referred to a Special Select Committee for deliberation was rejected,” he said.
He said Minister for Law Datuk Liew Vui Keong who met him on April 29 had since announced that there would be a special Parliamentary Select Committee on amendments to the Federal Constitution and was awaiting “the package of amendments" to be put forward.
The Chief Minister said the State Government would not abdicate its responsibilities to defend the State’s constitutional rights and the territory of the State including its boundaries.
For example, he said, the State Government had proceeded to enforce the Oil Mining Ordinance, 1958 to regulate oil mining both onshore and offshore of Sarawak and set up PETROS to have regulatory control of offshore mining and equity participation in existing oil and natural gas fields and future exploration and mining areas offshore.
At the same time, Sarawak would want to have full control of onshore mining before the end of the year, he said.
Additionally, Abang Johari said the State Government had imposed State Sales Tax on the export of certain items of petroleum products such as crude oil, LNG and condensates for a more equitable share of the revenues yielded from oil and natural gas produced in Sarawak.