PH Govt sincere in tabling Bill on MA63 — Baru Bian

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KUCHING (April 18): The Pakatan Harapan (PH) Government’s attempt to amend Article 1 (2) of the Federal Constitution on April 9 showed its sincerity in wanting to restore the status and rights of Sabah and Sarawak according to the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), said Sarawak PKR chairman Baru Bian.

He said the Government’s good intention did not bear fruit because some Opposition members including from Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) did not support the amendment Bill.

“After listening carefully to the points put forward by GPS Members of Parliament and other Opposition members not to support the amendment, I could not find any solid argument or merit in their debates.

“Their action has raised doubts on their sincerity in the effort to restore the status and rights of Sarawak and Sabah as enshrined in the Malaysia Agreement 1963, like the long-held aspiration and hope of all Sabah and Sarawak people,” he said in a statement here today.

Baru, who is also Works Minister and MP for Selangau, said the Bill was aimed at fully restoring to Sabah and Sarawak their original status as in the pre-1976 agreement, by retaining clauses and phrases enshrined in the Federal Constitution during the formation of Malaysia in 1963.

Referring to GPS representatives’ arguments for the matter to be referred to a Select Committee, the Sarawak Legislative Assembly or Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Baru said this should not have been made an issue now because this procedure was not taken when Article 1(2) was amended in 1976.

“On the other hand, the motion tabled by the Government recently was not detrimental to Sarawak, and in fact reflects a desire to return Sabah and Sarawak to their original status. Therefore, it is not necessary for the matter to be referred to the Sarawak Legislative Assembly,” he added.

Baru said on the definition of “Federation”, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had explained clearly why it was not included in the amendment Bill.

The Prime Minister, in his opening and winding-up speeches, had said that “the Government does not wish to amend the definition as the definition will be used in other clauses in the Federal Constitution which are still in force”.

Other issues relating to MA63 which have not been fulfilled are being discussed in the Steering Committee, Technical Committee and various cluster groups, Baru added.