KUCHING: State DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen yesterday suggested that the BN government file an amendment Bill in Parliament for Sarawak to be restored to its original position as a region.
He said the DAP was willing to support the amendment. He reckoned that together with MPs from BN and PKR, it would have more than the two-thirds majority needed to amend the Federal Constitution.
“We in DAP have already made our stand very clear. Even (DAP secretary general) Lim Guan Eng has already made his stand that DAP will support the amendment of the constitution to restore Sarawak’s position as a region, rather than a state in Malaysia,” he told reporters when met at Assistant Minister of Housing Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah’s Hari Raya open house here yesterday.
“BN has 122 MPs (of which 28 are from Sarawak) and DAP has 38 MPs. I believe that PKR will support as well. This means we will have more than two-thirds majority to amend the constitution, so don’t just talk only. Do it in Parliament.”
Chong was commenting on Minister of Local Government Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian’s call on Saturday to Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem to refer to Sarawak as a region in Malaysia and not a state within the federation when negotiating with the federal government on the state’s devolution of power.
Dr Sim, who is also SUPP president, said North Borneo (Sabah), Singapore, the Federation of Malaya, and Sarawak were the four regions that formed Malaysia in 1963; hence, he argued that if Sarawak was serious about fighting for its autonomy and reclaiming its status as a region in the nation as written in the Malaysia Agreement, Adenan should take the lead in making this stand.
“When talking about Sarawak’s fight for autonomy, I see that Sarawak is still referring to itself as a state in Malaysia. That is not consistent. Sarawak should refer to itself as just Sarawak from now on, not Negeri Sarawak (Sarawak state), in order to be seen as serious in fighting for autonomy,” said Dr Sim.
Dr Sim also advocated dropping the word ‘state’ when referring to Sarawak’s legislative assembly or government.
Chong said initially in the original Federal Constitution Article 1, it was provided that Malaysia shall constitute four regions, namely Sabah, Sarawak, Federal State of Malaya and Singapore.
“But in 1976, there was a constitutional amendment whereby that clause was amended to ‘Malaysia shall constitute 13 states namely…including Sabah and Sarawak and one territory’. That is where the status of Sarawak being a region has been relegated to a state.” Chong explained.
In view of this, Chong reiterated that the government filed an amendment Bill.
“After all, you are the government and that the status of Sarawak ought to be and can only be restored through the amendment of the constitution. There’s no point for you to talk outside.
“We call upon the BN government to put in an amendment Bill, failing which I will move the motion (in Parliament).”