It was mentioned by our Chief Minister today that the federal government has agreed to consider amending a provision under Article 160 of the Federal Constitution to align it with the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg had informed our media friends this morning that the provision must be amended to ensure that the Federal Constitution is based on MA63 and that the term ‘”the Federation” is no longer interpreted as ‘the Federation established under the Federation of Malaya Agreement 1957 ‘.
I was together with our Chief Minister when he mentioned this matter during the press conference which was held this morning where the amended provision would lead to a better relationship between the federal government and the Sarawak government in line with the MA63, after it was shot down by the previous Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration.
As such, our Chief Minister had thanked Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin for agreeing to have further discussions with the state government on the amendment, which was shot down by the previous Pakatan Harapan (PH) government.
“We request that ‘the Federation’ means the federation established under Malaysia Agreement 1963. Then they can realign the relationship between the state government and federal government under this constitution", the Chief Minister said.
“It doesn’t make sense when your constitution is based on (Federation of Malaya Agreement) 1957. Because if you’ve got any problem, the judge will interpret based on this,” he added while clarifying media reports on his previous remarks during a working visit to Lubok Antu held on March 30. He had reportedly said that the state government would make a decision on the state’s relations with the Perikatan Nasional-led (PN) federal government soon.
The chief minister said he did not touch on reviewing Gabungan Parti Sarawak’s (GPS) relationship with PN, adding that the news reports could have linked his speech to the current political ongoings in the Peninsular. He also stressed that GPS is a separate entity and not a member of PN but a partner to the PN to form the federal government.
“What we are talking about is ‘Sarawak First’, (about being) autonomous when you talk about MA63. They have agreed,” he said. During the press conference, I have also mentioned the Sarawak government had always been firm on the amendment to Article 160. I have also revealed that during the time of Pakatan Harapan as federal government, the Sarawak government wanted the amendment to the interpretation of the ordinance to be incorporated but it was refused.
The PH government had in April 2019 tabled a proposed amendment to the Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution which sought to restore the status of Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners to Peninsular Malaysia. We have always been adamant that the Federal Constitution, when they refer to ‘Federation’, it refers to Federation of Malaya only which is in 1957. They did not include Sabah and Sarawak that is what we wanted to incorporate which they refused to change.