KUCHING: Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) welcomes the prime minister’s recent announcement that the federal government promises to pay close attention to issues related to the interests of Sarawak and Sabah and continue refining unresolved matters related to the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
SUPP secretary-general Datuk Sebastian Ting Chiew Yew said the party hoped that the federal government through the MA63 Special Council chaired by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob would accept the proposed comprehensive amendments to the Federal Constitution unanimously passed by the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly (DUN) on April 30, 2019.
“The proposed amendments include amending Article 1(2) by adding the sentence ‘pursuant to Malaysia Agreement 1963’ and reverting Sarawak and Sabah status as separate entities and not lumped together with the states of Malaya.
“The amendment to the Article 160(2) redefines ‘the Federation’ as the Federation established under MA63 signed on July 9, 1963.
“The key thing here is for MA63 to be recognised by the Federal Constitution, the supreme law of the land, for any future discussions to restore or reclaim Sarawak’s eroded rights,” he said on Friday (Sept 17).
Elaborating further on the proposed amendments, he said another was an amendment to Article 95B to stop the federal government from amending the State List and Concurrent List in the Ninth Schedule or any matter not already in any of the Lists without first seeking consent from the Sarawak DUN.
“With this provision, it will help to prevent any further erosion of legislative and executive powers of the state, which had happened in the past where Parliament, without prior consultation with Sarawak, altered or amended our Legislative Lists,” said Ting, who is also Assistant Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture and Piasau assemblyman.
He said there was also the proposed amendment to the Federal Constitution to transfer ‘Tourism’ matter from Item 25A in the Federal List to be listed in the Concurrent List and ‘Environment’ matter to be placed in Supplement to the Concurrent List for Sabah and Sarawak.
He explained that this would give more power to the Sarawak government to better manage its tourism and environment in order to protect the interest of the state and its people.
“We also would like to propose that education and health matters be placed under the State List for Sarawak so we can have improved education and health system tailored to the needs of our people.
“Of course, the federal government is to provide the annual funding for the management of these two matters by the state government,” he said.
He noted that another important proposed amendment was to Article 85A so that state land given to the federal government for federal purpose is to be returned to Sarawak government if unused.
“We hope all these crucial amendments to the Federal Constitution can be quickly agreed upon, tabled and passed by Parliament smoothly to safeguard the legislative and executive powers of Sarawak, sources of revenues and financial autonomy assigned for Sarawak,” he said.
Ting also expressed SUPP’s gratitude to the prime minister’s commitment to increase economic growth and development in Sarawak by allocating RM4.47 billion for the state, via Rolling Plan 1, 2021 in the 12th Malaysian Plan.
“This is on top of the revenue from our oil and gas royalty and sales tax on petroleum products collected from Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas),” he said.