KUCHING: The Malaysian Agreement 1963 (MA63) as the “birth certificate” of the Federation of Malaysia is a valid document and Singapore’s exit from the federation did not nullify the international agreement which is recognised and registered in the United Nations as agreement No. 14760 and reflected in Resolutions 1541 and 1554 of the United Nations Charter.

Should the document and its functions be nullified or dismissed it could cause the death of the federation and the dissolution of Malaysia.

These were the general consensual points put forward by all the speakers at a Dayak Daily-organised forum and debate entitled “Should Sarawakians support the amendment to the Federal Constitution 1(2) Bill tabled in parliament last April 9 in the light of Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63)?”

The forum held at Kuching Civic Centre yesterday saw four speakers – Padungan assemblyman Wong King Wei, former Padungan assemblyman Dominique Ng, Muara Tuang assemblyman Idris Buang, and prominent lawyer Shankar Ram – presenting their arguments. Each speaker had 10 minutes and received three questions from the floor.

This was followed by a debate between Iswandi Mordi as the proposer of the motion and Datuk Idris Buang arguing against it.

The question on the validity of the MA63 arose when the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk V K Liew, recently commented in a local daily that the agreement was “problematic” due to the exit of Singapore in 1965.

The perennial issue in the article that Liew was alluding to in his comments was the proposed amendment Bill to Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution purporting to restore Sarawak and Sabah to their original or intended positions in the federation.

Idris was first to have the floor laying down the basic information and facts that preceded the MA63 and its effects upon ratification and registration in the United Nations and put forward the reasoning behind Gabungan Party Sarawak’s insistence on the insertion of the words “pursuant to Malaysia Agreement 1963” in the intended Bill.

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“The amendment of the constitution should be done holistically and include with it all other necessary amendments so that the effect is that we have our rights returned more so than a cosmetic return of our status only,” said Buang in concluding his arguments.

Wong in his session also agreed that MA63 is a valid document and suggested that the PH government recognized the document when Putrajaya presented its amendment Bill. After it was hotly contested the contentious original Bill was changed to mirror the wordings of MA63 and was presented for the second reading by the Prime Minister.

Wong said, “The amendment Bill shows Pakatan Harapan’s sincerity in wanting to restore Sarawak’s position in the federation and in the second reading the words were changed to be almost identical to the words used in MA63.”

Dominique Ng who was the third speaker also agreed that the MA63 was a valid document and treated as the birth certificate of the country. He was also the one speaker that pointed out that should the document be regarded as null and void then it would also mean that there would be no more Malaysia.

“What is Sarawak doing in Malaysia if MA63 is invalid?” asked Ng after pointing out that GPS MPs in Parliament were right to oppose the Bill because it would not have restored our rights. Rather it was alleged to be a cosmetic change by merely recognising a status with no rights attached to it.

Shankar Ram, the final speaker, and spoke on the various attempts by the current administration to change matters unilaterally without regard for the Constitution.

He also pointed out two judicial rulings in the Federal Court where the Malaysian judiciary agreed to the validity and poignancy of the MA63 in parallel to the Malaysian Constitution and the fact that the document also gave birth to the Malaysian judiciary and judicial system as well.

Around 1,000 people turned up for the forum and debate with notable attendance by leaders and members of GPS such as Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Sri Fatimah Abdullah, Batang Sadong MP Datuk Sri Nancy Sukri, Tanjung Datu assemblywoman Datuk Amar Jamillah Anu, Beting Maru assemblywoman Datuk Rohani Karim, Piasau assemblyman Datuk Sebastian Ting, Kapit MP Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi, community leaders like Datuk Richard Wee, Temengong Tan Joo Poi as well as party supporters from both sides of the political divide.