Definition of Article 16 of the Sarawak Constitution still up to court interpretation

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Leslie Ting

KUCHING: Parti Bumi Kenyalang (PBK) lamented that the recent amendment to Article 16 of the Sarawak Constitution by the state government to define ‘resident in the state’ is still ambiguous and unclear.

“As it constitutes a grey area, it will be up to the court to interpret, shall an issue of this kind be brought before the Judiciary.

“Shall the appeal of this matter go to the Federal Court, it will most likely be decided by non-Sarawakian judges as we saw in the case of (former Pujut assemblyman) Ting Tiong Choon.

“Therefore, once again the destiny of Sarawak will be in the hands of Malaya,” PBK political affairs deputy director Leslie Ting said in a statement on Sunday (Nov 15).

Leslie said, if such is the case, it would not be consistent with the spirit of Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and may prejudice Sarawakians as the ‘resident’ issue would ultimately be decided by Malaya.

“Sarawak could not afford to hand over the decision concerning Sarawak’s rights including the eligibility to be elected as Dewan Undangan Negeri members, be decided by Malayan Parliament and by Malayans before the Federal Court.

“Such decisions affecting Sarawak rights should never be decided by the Federal Court but by Sarawak special court only,” he said.

The PBK man said Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) should have given a clearer definition as to what constitutes a ‘resident’ in the state to avoid any unnecessary legal proceedings in the future.

“The many opinions expressed by some lawyers, politicians and members of public which are inconsistent with the amendment to Article 16 leave much doubt.

“It could be exploited to provide floodgates for non-Sarawakians including Malayans to occupy seats in the Sarawak legislature,” he said.

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