KUCHING: The State Constitution of Sabah and Sarawak is the supreme law of the states just as the Federal Constitution, the supreme law of the federation in providing the scope for effective governance and legislative jurisdictions.
SUPP Kuching Youth assistant publicity officer Eric Tay pointed this out in response to a remark by Law Minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong advocating that the federal Constitution “says it all”.
Eric questioned whether Liew meant that the federal Constitution obliterates the rights and interest of the people of Sabah and Sarawak as enshrined in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
“This is a controversial issue, exacerbated by the fact that many of the rights of Sabah and Sarawak were eroded since joining the federation 57 years ago,” he said in a statement yesterday.
According to Eric, the propaganda by Liew advocating that “federal Constitution says it all” was a gimmick in paving the way for the re-tabling of amendment to Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution at the Parliament scheduled in March.
“Liew’s remark is incomprehensible and unilateral. Since the federal Constitution originated from MA63 which was signed by Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak as founding members of the federation, the interests and the will of the people of Sabah and Sarawak shall be taken into consideration in the same proportion as Malaya while interpreting it, both scripturally and juristically,” he said.
He said if Liew was truly convinced that the amendment aimed to restore the equal partner status among Sabah, Sarawak and Malaya pursuant to MA63, he should convince the people by figuring out in detail how the federal government would restore the rights of Sabah and Sarawak which were eroded over the past 57 years.
“Without MA63 as the jurisdictional basis, the amendment is superficial, and gives no meaning to us. Even worse, if it becomes the restraining factor in Sabah and Sarawak’s negotiation to regain our eroded rights,” he stressed.
He added, “Sarawak and Sabah are the states that produce the most petroleum and natural gas. While the boundaries of Sabah and Sarawak were maintained by virtue of Article 1(3) of Federal Constitution, the two Borneo States should rightfully exercise control over petroleum found within its territories, including offshore or continental shelf.”
However, he said those rights were taken away with the introduction of Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA1974) that empowered Petronas to enjoy 100 percent control over oil and gas resources in Malaysia.
“Even though the federal Constitution provides clear delineation to the boundaries of founding states, yet Parliament passed the unconstitutional PDA 1974 which did not follow a substantive provision of the federal Constitution.
“Hence, despite owning the resources, Sabah and Sarawak are merely compensated with 5 percent oil royalty. Should we treat this as reasonable?” he asked.