KUALA LUMPUR: The amendment of Article 2(1) of the Federal Constitution is just the beginning in the move to restore Sabah’s and Sarawak’s rights.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamd said this would be followed by a host of other amendments involving laws which affect the two Borneo states.
“This is just the starting point and this is an appropriate time for the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government to take the first step in realising the needs of the people in Sabah and Sarawak in line with the Malaysia Agreement 1963,” he said.
Dr Mahathir said this in his speech
at the second reading of the amendment Bill to Article 2(1) of the Federal Constitution in the Dewan Rakyat on Tuesday.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong tabled the Bill for first reading in the Dewan Rakyat, on April 4.
During the 14th General Election last year, one of the main promises in the PH manifesto was the restoration of the original status of Sabah and Sarawak.
Dr Mahathir said the proposed amendment involving Article 2(1) would see the states states revert to their original status when the Federation of Malaysia was formed, with necessary modifications.
“This amendment is being undertaken to fullfil the demand of the Sabah and Sarawak state governments, in that the position of Sabah and Sarawak under Article 2(1) will be reverted to the position it was at the time when Malaysia was formed and in line with the spirit and intent of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63),” Dr Mahathir said.
He said the proposed amendment was an appropriate undertaking by the government, as it seeks to realise the demand from Sabah and Sarawak, which had been submitted and discussed by a Special Cabinet Committee reviewing the implementation of MA63.
Dr Mahathir said the special cabinet committee was still in the midst of discussions and negotiations on issues relating to the rights of Sabah and Sarawak, under MA63.
“The negotiations will go on until an agreement, consensus and compromise can be reached and accepted well by all parties.
“After the proposed amendment to this Clause 2(1) is agreed upon, other necessary amendments will follow suit based on the ongoing negotiations,” Dr Mahathir explained.
He said the amendments were in line with the speech he made at the Malaysia Day celebrations on Sept 16, last year.
He said when Malaysia was formed MA63, Article 1 (2) of the Federal Constitution was amended with the inclusion of the definition of states of the federation comprising Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak as well as Singapore.
“These four regions were to merge as ‘equal partners; or equivalent friends - standing tall and sitting low equally.
“However, Singapore left Malaysia in 1965,” said the prime minister.
However, the amendment to the Federal Constitution in 1976 subsequently listed Sabah and Sarawak as being states of the federation, along with the other states in Peninsular Malaysia.
“Malaysia Baru and the Pakatan Harapan government take cognizance of this and will return the associate status to Sabah and Sarawak.
“This will be part of the process which will be implemented after the study on the Malaysia Agreement 1963 is completed.
“This will be the first step which will be implemented,” Dr Mahathir said.
The proposed amendment seeks to list Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Melaka, Negri Sembilan, Pahang, Penang, Perak, Perlis, Selangor, and Terengganu as states of Malaya. Sabah and Sarawak will be referred to as the Borneo State. All will form the States of the Federation of Malaysia.
Dr Mahathir also drew attention to the fact that this time the amendment does not in any way alter the functions of the Federal Government and state governments under the concept of federalism as enshrined in the Constitution.
Dr Mahathir stressed that the amendment tabled today was not done in haste to meet the needs of any party, but to pave the way for the reform of the law to achieve the wishes of all its people.
“The amendment must be seen as one entity without separating East Malaysia and West Malaysia,” he said.
He added that the country’s unity should be the main agenda of all parties.