Amendment to definition intended for clarification

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Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah

THE Constitution of State of Sarawak (Amendment) Bill, 2020 that seeks to define and clarify the words “resident in the State” and to lower the age qualification of person as elected member of the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) under Article 16 of the State Constitution, was tabled on Tuesday (Nov 10).

Tabling on the amendment was Tourism, Arts, and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.

Abdul Karim said Article 16 of the State Constitution provided for the qualification of persons to be elected as an elected member of the DUN to be “resident in the State”.

He said the same qualification was also stated in Section 5 of Part of the Eighth Schedule of the Federal Constitution.

“However, the definition is neither provided in the Federal Constitution nor in the Constitution of the State of Sarawak. As guaranteed by the Malaysian Agreement 1963, Article 161E (4) of the Federal Constitution read together with the Immigration Act 1959/63 [Act 155], the State Authority is empowered to determine matters relating to residence and right of entry into the State.

“Therefore, this amendment to incorporate the definition of ‘resident in the State’ is intended to clarify such qualification of ‘resident in the State’ within the confines of the State’s constitutional authority.”

Abdul Karim said this amendment to the definition of “resident in the State” was tied up with Section 71 of the Immigration Act 1959/63 [Act 155] to ensure the definition is consistent with such provision on persons being treated as belonging to East Malaysian State as provided in the Immigration Act 1959/63 [Act 155].

In the meantime, another proposed amendment of the bill was to lower the age qualification of persons to be elected as an elected member of the DUN so as to be consistent with the Federal Constitution’s amendment.

He said the Federal Constitution (Amendment) Act 2019 [Act A1603] which was passed by Parliament on July 16 last year and came into force on Sept 10 last year had inter alia amended the age qualification of persons to be elected as an elected member of the State Legislative Assembly from 28 years to 18 years in Section 5 of Part I of the Eighth Schedule of the Federal Constitution.

“Article 71(4) of the Federal Constitution requires the Constitution of any State to have the provisions substantially to the same effect of provisions in Part I of the Eighth Schedule which are regarded as the essential provisions.”

He said therefore it was necessary for amendment to be made to Article 16 of the Constitution of the State of Sarawak to give effect to this essential provision so as to be consistent with the Federal Constitution.

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