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SUPP admits leaders agreed to amendment to Article 1 of the Federal Constitution which reduced Sarawak from founding partner to being one of 13 states.

PETALING JAYA: A leading Barisan Nasional component in Sarawak has apologised for having supported the amendment to the Federal Constitution in 1976 that led to the downgrading of the state from its previous sovereign status.

Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) Secretary-General Sebastian Ting Chew Yew admitted that his party had not objected, and had helped to pass the amendment which essentially reduced Sarawak from its 1963 status as a founding partner to the peninsula-based government, to simply being one of 13 states in Malaysia, The Borneo Post reported Thursday.

“The present leadership accepts this responsibility and, on behalf of the party, I would like to apologise to party members and the people of Sarawak as a whole,” Ting said in a statement released by the party Wednesday.

The amendment to Article 1 of the Federal Constitution in 1976 through Act A354, saw Sarawak downgraded from Region 2 in the Federation of Malaysia, to being one of 13 states in Malaysia.

“It is the most critical and fundamental ‘discrepancy’ found in the Federal Constitution.

“This is because, as a result, it has tremendously curtailed the disbursement of federal funds for Sarawak and Sabah to a level of state, rather than two of the three founding partners.

“In other words, both Sarawak and Sabah have been short-changed in financial allocations from the Federal Government,” Ting said in the statement.

He expressed his party’s support for Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem’s call to amend Article 1 of the Federal Constitution in Parliament to its original wording.

Ting also supported Deputy Chief Minister Dr James Masing’s call for all MPs from Sarawak and Sabah to put aside party allegiances and political differences in order to get the Federal Constitution amended to restore the constitutional position of both Sarawak and Sabah in the Federation of Malaysia.

“According to Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), there shall be no confusion that the Federation of Malaysia is a federation of nations, unlike the former Federation of Malaya which was a unitary state system with the centralisation of governing powers,” he said, referring to the agreement as an association of equal partners which combines each other’s strengths and resources with each individuality retained.

Ting added that the Sarawak government now wanted to use the Cobbold Commission, Inter-Governmental Committee, MA63 and the Malaysia Act 1963, that could not be altered or overridden by any act of Parliament, in order to claim the rights and entitlements which belonged to Sarawak with the signing of the MA63.

SUPP currently has one MP, Richard Riot, who is also minister of human resources, and seven state assemblymen, in the PBB-led BN coalition government.

The SUPP statement also came out strongly in criticising Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UMP) lecturer Professor Ramlah Adam over her presentation at a seminar entitled “A Journey To Merdeka: Sarawak in Malaysia” last Sunday.

“She appears not to understand that Sarawak is not a state like any of the other states in the peninsula but as a founding equal partner to the Federation of Malaya, which originally comprised 11 states.

“Most people would not know that her (Ramlah’s) own state was not a signatory to the Malaysia Agreement, and as such, not invited to the negotiation table to set up the new nation in 1963. So how can Perlis be on equal status with Sarawak?” Ting asked.

KUCHING: Kerajaan Sarawak berhasrat untuk mengembalikan status Sarawak kepada kedudukan asal sebelum pindaan Perlembagaan dilakukan pada 1976 dan meminta Putrajaya mempertimbangkan negeri itu setaraf dengan Persekutuan Tanah Melayu kerana ia merupakan satu daripada pihak yang memetrai Perjanjian Malaysia 53 tahun lalu.

Ketua Menteri Tan Sri Adenan Satem berkata, Sarawak bukan hanya satu daripada 14 negeri dan wilayah kerana di bawah Perlembagaan asal Persekutuan, dimaktubkan bahawa Persekutuan Malaysia terdiri daripada semua negeri di Persekutuan Tanah Melayu, negeri Sabah dan Sarawak di Borneo dan Singapura.

“Selepas pindaan pada 1976, Sarawak menjadi satu daripada 14 negeri di Malaysia,” kata Adenan kepada pemberita selepas merasmikan Seminar Sejarah Sarawak yang mengupas tajuk berkaitan dengan pembentukan Malaysia.

Pindaan itu menurut beliau telah menyebabkan kuasa Sarawak terhakis, justeru beliau mahu mengembalikan hak dan kedudukan Sarawak kepada keadaan asal.

Adenan turut menghujahkan bahawa pindaan berkenaan adalah tidak sah dan batal kerana melanggar Perjanjian Malaysia, Laporan Jawatankuasa Antara Kerajaan dan Laporan Suruhanjaya Cobbold.

Ujarnya, Sarawak ialah satu daripada pihak yang tandatangani Perjanjian Malaysia pada 1963, dan dengan itu punya taraf sama.

Terdahulu, dalam ucapannya Ketua Menteri yang dengan tegas telah menuntut hak dan autonomi Sarawak sejak mengambil alih kepemimpinan pada 2015 berkata, Sarawak bukan satu daripada negeri dalam Persekutuan pada 1963 tetap negeri pengasas dan terdapat perbezaan antara negeri pengasas dengan kedudukan negeri dalam Persekutuan Tanah Melayu.

“Kemungkinan itu ialah kesilapan kita kerana tidak menentang pindaan pada 1976,” katanya sambil menambah beliau tidak mahu menyalahkan sesiapa dalam kes itu.

Sementara itu, Profesor Datin Paduka Ramlah Adam berkata isu berkaitan Perjanjian 18/20 Perkara telah diserapkan dalam Perlembagaan dan ketika Malaysia dibentuk negeri persekutuan telah kehilangan nama asal, Persekutuan Tanah Melayu yang disifatkannya sebagai satu pengorbanan.

Source: Sarawak Voice

He says the people are fully aware that development of infrastructure in Sabah is the responsibility of the government of the day.

KOTA KINABALU: A longtime Borneo rights advocate has charged that the Sabah Government, in particular Chief Minister Musa Aman, has not responded to requests from Opposition lawmakers for development aid.

“In the Sabah Legislative Assembly, Opposition members have repeatedly spoken up on the need for development, improvements, repairs and maintenance,” Bingkor Assemblyman Jeffrey Kitingan said in a statement.

“The BN, as the current government, has a moral and legal duty to respond,” the Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (Star) president said.

Unfortunately, Jeffrey said the suggestions and appeals had not been acted upon by the BN Government.

He warned that the writing is on the wall for BN.

“Its days as the state government are numbered.

“The government should respect the demands of the rakyat, made through their elected representatives.”

Jeffrey said it was “sad” BN leaders continued with their “lies and deception” to fool the people.

The BN claims the Opposition is unable to bring development.”

He said it was fortunate that the rakyat were “no longer fools to be duped time and again” by BN leaders.

“They are fully aware that development is the responsibility of the government of the day.”

If one were to traverse the whole of Sabah, it is obvious the BN Government has failed to properly develop Sabah, he continued.

“There’s a lack of clean treated water, electricity and good roads. Sealed roads are not properly maintained.”

He cited the Sepulut-Kalabakan highway as an example. “It is in a bad state even though it was just completed a few years ago.”

The rights advocate pointed out that the chief minister had to go to Pagalungan in Pensiangan, by helicopter to attend a function earlier this week.

“If he had travelled by road, it would have taken him at least two hours to reach Pergalungan. If it had rained, he would have difficulty getting there on the gravel road.”

The BN Government has failed to properly develop Sabah, he summed up.

“It’s the poorest state in Malaysia with 40 per cent of the poor in the country.”

Even Sabah rights, written in the Federal Constitution, have been totally ignored for the past 50 years, he said.

“This includes Sabah’s revenue rights for the past 47 years.”

Human rights advocate says constitutional experts like Shad Faruqi, Tommy Thomas, Azmi Sharom and Gurdial Singh should be a part of the forum.

KOTA KINABALU: A human rights advocate in Borneo has suggested that constitutional experts in the country participate in a forum to discuss the status of Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysia.

Daniel John Jambun made this call after expressing surprise that a constitutional expert stated the obvious on Article 1 in the Federal Constitution (FC) instead of offering novel insights on law.

“Everyone knows how Article 1 has read since 1976,” said Jambun in a telephone interview. “The issue, as raised by Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem, was to restore Article 1 to its pre-1976 status.”

Jambun, who heads the UK-based Borneo’s Plight in Malaysia Foundation (Bopim), said that he has also been left wondering why Aziz Bari thinks that getting a two-thirds majority in Parliament to amend Article 1 would be difficult.

“If MPs want to deny Sabah and Sarawak their rights, the Federal Court can sit on the matter,” he said. “The Federal Court should also visit the definition of Federation in Article 160.”

The human rights advocate elsewhere begs to differ with the constitutional lawyer implying the 1976 amendment could only have been challenged then.

“There’s no time limit when it’s a continuing breach,” he said. “Besides, the Malaysian Parliament cannot violate the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).”

Jambun, in disagreeing with Aziz, suggested he get together with other constitutional experts on the status of Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysia. “It’s in their professional interest as well to explore this issue.”

“Bopim can work on bringing together sponsors for a public forum on the issue,” he assured. “We can invite some international experts like Andrew Harding and Anthony Lester, among others.”

Offhand, he can recall several local constitutional experts, namely Shad Faruqi, Tommy Thomas, Azmi Sharom and Gurdial Singh.

“There might be others out there Aziz can invite,” said Jambun.

Briefly, he said, the 1976 amendment is inherently null and void as if there had been no amendment. “The original Article 1 still stands as the amendment violates MA63.”

The sovereignty of Parliament, he stressed, was confined to its five year term. “No Parliament can be bound by a previous Parliament or bind a future Parliament.”

MA63 is an international agreement and treaty signed by five governments – the UK, Sabah, Sarawak, Singapore and Malaya – and lodged with the United Nations Secretary-General, reminded the Bopim chief. “It’s virtually a trust deed and above the Malaysian Parliament.”

Under the Malaysian system, he pointed out, the Federal Constitution is supreme, not Parliament. “The Federal Constitution cannot be seen as going against itself.”

MA63 is a constitutional document and should be read together with the other constitutional documents on Malaysia and the Federal Constitution , said Jambun. “The Federal Constitution cannot be read in isolation. 

That’s what Aziz did on Article 1 post-1976.”

Star President Jeffrey Kitingan supports Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem's call for Putrajaya to rectify 'past mistakes'.

KOTA KINABALU: The time has come for “past mistakes” to be rectified if the Federation was to survive and move forward, Sabah opposition politician Jeffrey Kitingan said in a statement today.

Calling the 1976 constitutional amendment a mistake, and which should be reversed, he said: “The original basis for the formation of Malaysia should be restored.”

Jeffrey also pointed out that the original status was reflected in the 1963 Federal Constitution.

If the Federation of Malaya and Putrajaya does not do so, he cautioned, it’s only appropriate and fair that Sabah and Sarawak should be given the option.

“Obviously, it (Federal government) does not wish to honour the basis for the formation of Malaysia,” he lamented.

Jeffrey, who is Bingkor Assemblyman and Star President, was commenting on a statement by Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem on the 1976 constitutional amendment.

Adenan dismissed the amendment, which had reduced the status of Sabah and Sarawak to that of the 12th and 13th states in Malaysia, saying it was “null and void” as it had contravened the original Malaysia Agreement 1963.

“The Federation of Malaya (the peninsula) was now masquerading as the Federation of Malaysia.

“The Federal Government had no business amending the Constitution in 1976.

“It smells of a vicious and sinister plot to colonize Sabah and Sarawak and ‘steal’ their resources and wealth,” Jeffrey said.

Referring to the Commission of Enquiry for North Borneo (Sabah) and Sarawak that was establised in 1962 to determine if the people supported the proposal to create a Federation of Malaysia, Jeffrey said the chairman of the Commission, Lord Cameron Cobbold, was generally against the idea.

“He had stated in 1962 that Malaysia would not, in his judgement, be generally acceptable or successful.

“He also forewarned that Malaysia would involve firstly the takeover of the Borneo Territories by the Federation of Malaya, and secondly, the submersion of the individualities of North Borneo (Sabah) and Sarawak,” Jeffrey said.

The other four members of the Cobbold Commission were then chief minister of Penang, Wong Pow Nee; then permanent secretary to the ministry of foreign affairs Malaya, Mohammed Ghazali Shafie; former governor of Sarawak, Anthony Abell; and former chief secretary of Malaya, David Watherston.

“If the founding fathers in Borneo knew in 1963 that Sabah and Sarawak would join the Federation of Malaya as the 12th and 13th states, there would have been no Malaysia today,” Jeffrey said.

He also suggested that if Sabah and Sarawak were independent and not been a part of Malaysia, they could even have been as wealthy as Singapore and Brunei, which he called the 3rd and 5th richest nations in the world.

“Sarawak is contributing RM55 billion and Sabah another RM20 billion annually to the Federal Government from their oil and gas reserves,” said Jeffrey.

Instead, he said, Sabah and Sarawak are languishing as the poorest and second poorest states in Malaysia.

“Almost all our wealth is being siphoned off to develop Malaya (the peninsula).”

Sarawak PKR leader Baru Bian says Opposition will also support any BN motion for the reversal of federal amendment in 1976 that reduced Sarawak to a state.


KUCHING: PKR said it will table a motion in the coming Sarawak State Assembly sitting on Sarawak’s position under the Federal Constitution.

It said it will propose that the state government make a stand in reversing the 1976 amendment to Article 1(2) of the Constitution, which downgraded the status of Sarawak from a region to a state.

“We would like to table a motion, probably to initiate a move and notice to the state government that we Sarawakians should be making a stand on this.

“We hope the state assembly will agree to tell all YBs, from across the political divide, to agree with us,” Sarawak PKR leader Baru Bian told the media here today.

The assembly sits from Nov 21.

Baru said it did not matter to the Opposition component which side initiates the motion.

“At least there will be a unanimous stand on the matter. We are aware that eventually the proper place where this should be done is Parliament.

“But I think it is right for Sarawak to make a stand first. Hopefully, the YBs from Sarawak and maybe the state government itself will support or sponsor an amendment bill in the Parliament in the coming sitting.”

Baru pointed out that the state BN had unanimously supported a motion in 2012 by Sarawak DAP leader Chong Chieng Jen calling for the increment of oil royalty from 5 per cent to 20 per cent.

Baru said even if the BN decided to table a motion on the present issue, the Opposition will support it.
Adenan recently said Sarawak MPs may propose in the Parliament to reinstate an article of the Constitution to enable the state to regain its powers that had been eroded over the years.

Adenan said before the amendment in 1976, Sarawak and Sabah fell under a different category from Peninsular Malaysian states.

“Before that (the amendment in 1976), it stated that the states of Malaysia shall be (a) the states of West Malaysia, (b) Sarawak and Sabah and (c) Singapore. Now there is only one category,” the chief minister was quoted as saying.

The amendment to Article 1(2) was among 48 amendments to the Federal Constitution under a Bill tabled by then Prime Minister Hussein Onn on July 12, 1976 and was passed on July 13, 1976.

The motion to downgrade the status of Sarawak and Sabah from regions within Malaysia to states was debated on July 12 and July 13, 1976 and was supported by 130 MPs. Only four MPs objected.

None of the MPs from Sarawak opposed the Bill covering the amendments. The four MPs who opposed were Lim Kit Siang, Dr Tan Chee Khoon, Farn Seong Than and Lee Lam Thye, all from DAP.


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