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Sabah Solidarity Movement To Submit Memorandum To Parliament Speaker on Reforms on Sabah Constitutional Safeguards

Kota Kinabalu: “The Sabah Solidarity Movement (Gerakan Perpaduan Sabah - GPS) will submit a Memorandum to the Dewan Rakyat Speaker, Tan Sri Pandekar Amin, to incorporate restoration of the 1/3 veto power as Sabah and Sarawak constitutional safeguards in the proposed parliamentary reforms” said Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan, STAR Sabah Chief, in a press statement released today.

GPS had noted with sadness that although both BN and PR MPS have voiced support for Tan Sri Pandekar’s initiative for parliamentary reforms, none of their proposals had addressed the injustice faced by Sabah and Sarawak in the present Federal Parliament.

Accordingly, GPS viewed that as the first Parliamentary Speaker from Sabah, Tan Sri Pandekar, is most suited to lead the restoration of the rightful status of Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners to Malaya in the Federal Parliament.

Tan Sri Pandekar was requested to lead the parliamentary reforms to restore the spirit of the formation of Malaysia, to accord equal status of Sabah and Sarawak with Malaya and to ensure the protection of Sabah and Sarawak rights.

When the Federation of Malaysia was formed in 1963, Malaya only held 2/3 of the parliamentary seats with 1/3 held by Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore. When Singapore left in 1963, the 15 seats held by Singapore should have been allocated to Sabah and Sarawak but unfortunately it did not happen.

As a result, Sabah and Sarawak lost its 1/3 veto powers in Parliament and now holds only 25% of the parliamentary seats. As stated in the IGC Report, this was a constitutional safeguard for the Borneo States to ensure that the Federal Constitution would not be freely amended by Malaya representatives alone.

Subsequently, in 1976, with its 2/3 majority, the Federal Constitution was amended and Sabah and Sarawak were down-graded to be the 12th/13th States of Malaya and the TYT Yang DiPertua Negara of Sabah reduced to TYT Yang DiPertua Negeri.

It is hoped by GPS that the proposed parliamentary reforms will accord an opportunity to restore the rights of Sabah and Sarawak as equal to Malaya and not simply as a state like the other 11 States in Malaya.

Sabah and Sarawak have every right to the 1/3 parliamentary seats as it was recommended in paragraphs 165 and 190(g) of the Cobbold Commission Report that “representation of the Borneo territories shall take into account not only of their populations but also of their size and potentialities.” To get a proper perspective, Sabah is 90 times the size of Perlis or equal to 9 states in Malaya while Sarawak is almost equal in size to all the 11 Malayan States.

The proposal should receive the support of other Sabah and Sarawak MPs including Tan Sri Pairin Kitingan who had viewed that Malaya should be restricted to only 65% ratio of MPs seats in the Federal Parliament as agreed in 1963. This view was shared by many Sabah Umno leaders, UPKO and other BN components in Sabah.

To some, it may be seen as a step to keep the BN in power. It is not so whatever the detractors may say. To the PR supporters, the solution is a simple one. PR should work with parties in Sabah and Sarawak particularly opposition parties to win in Sabah and Sarawak who can then in turn support PR to form the federal government. For instance, the current Sabah and Sarawak MPs can change the federal government by pulling their support from BN and remaining neutral.

GPS had also proposed that in any future amendment to the Federal Constitution or Act of Parliament affecting Sabah and Sarawak, such amendment should require the express approval of the Sabah or Sarawak Legislative Assembly respectively.

The Memorandum by GPS to Tan Sri Pandeka was signed by Datuk Hj. Mohd Noor Mansoor, as Chairman of the local Sabah coalition, Datuk Wilfred Bumburing, Chairman of APS, Datuk Yong Teck Lee, President of SAPP, En. Narawai Ahmad, President of Sabah People’s Rights Movement (SAPRIM) and Dr. Jeffrey on behalf of STAR Sabah.

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