‘Premier’ correctly expresses Sarawak’s status

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KUCHING: The proposed constitutional amendment to effect the change of title from “Chief Minister’ to “Premier” is to correctly express the status of Sarawak as different from the other states in the country.

Minister for Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Datuk Seri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, when tabling the Constitution of the State of Sarawak (Amendment) Bill, 2022 in the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) on Feb 15, said that to give full effect to the amendment of the Federal Constitution (FC) last year, it is necessary for the Constitution of the State of Sarawak to be amended.

“The recent amendments to the FC restores the spirit originally contemplated by the parties to the Malaysia Agreement, 1963 (MA63), that is, when Sarawak agreed to be a party to the formation of Malaysia, it was intended that it would retain its status as one of the three regions (Federation of Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak) that formed the new Federation of Malaysia.

“As one of the regions, Sarawak must not be regarded as having the same status as the component states in the Federation of Malaya. The special status of Sarawak needs to be reflected in a manner different from those of the Malayan states.

“As practised in other Commonwealth regions that have similar set-ups to Malaysia including Australia and Canada, the head of the federation is the prime minister while the heads of regions that constitute the federation are Premiers. The heads of the sub-regions or states are Chief Ministers.

“Therefore, to correctly reflect the status of Sarawak as different from the other states in Malaya, it is proposed that the designation ‘Chief Minister’ be changed to ‘Premier’,” he said.

Abdul Karim further said that Article 7A of the Constitution of the State of Sarawak provides the designations of “Assistant Ministers” to assist the Chief Minister and ministers to discharge their duties and functions.

“Given the responsibilities that they hold and exercise, it is, therefore, necessary to reflect the proper designation and style from that of ‘Assistant Ministers’ to ‘Deputy Minister’.

“Hence, it is proposed that the designation of ‘Assistant Minister’ be re-styled as ‘Deputy Minister’ to better reflect their functions and responsibilities,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Parliament has passed the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2021 on Dec 14, 2021, which amongst others, amended Clause (2) of Article 1 of the FC to restore the original provision of Clause (2) of Article 1 of the FC during the formation of Malaysia in 1963 except the reference to Singapore.

Whereas the definition of “the Federation” in clause (2) of Article 160 was amended following the spirit of the Agreement relating to Malaysia dated July 9, 1963, and under the Agreement relating to the separation of Singapore from Malaysia as an independent and sovereign State dated August 7, 1965.

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong has appointed Feb 11, 2022, as the date on which this Constitution (Amendment) Act 2022 [Act A1642] came into operation.

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