Take action to ensure Sabah no longer referred to as “State” after amendment

I support the proposal by Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal to take relevant actions to ensure that Sabah will no longer be referred to as “state” in official documents immediately after the amendment to Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution which is to be tabled in Parliament soon.

A news report on 17 March quoted Shafie that the Sabah government will consider dropping the term ‘state’ if the amendment to Article 1 (2) of the Federal Constitution receives the support of the elected representatives in Parliament.

In the same statement, Shafie further stated that what was important at this time was to get sufficient support of the Members of Parliament in the Dewan Rakyat to enable amendments in Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution to make Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia as partners to be realized.

I am confident that we will manage to get a two-third majority this time around.

During the amendment to Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution in 1976 which downgraded the status of Sabah and Sarawak from “founding states” or regions within Malaysia to one of the 13 states, not a single MP from Sabah or Sarawak opposed the amendment.

For the record, 4 MPs namely Lim Kit Siang, Farn Seong Than, Lee Lam Thye and Dr Tan Chee Khoon (3 DAP, 1 PEKEMAS) opposed the 1976 amendment.

I can understand that in 1976 the Sabahan and Sarawakian MPs may be bound and shackled by their Barisan party whips. However this is no longer the case today, especially for the Gagasan Parti Sarawak (GPS) MPs. It would be utterly ridiculous and not make sense for these MPs to oppose or abstain from voting for an amendment which will only bring benefit to their beloved state, and that is to return their state Sarawak to equal partner status with Peninsula Malaysia as it was before 1976.

Or will these Sarawakian MPs be willing to be shamed for a second time? They have to remember that they are answerable to their electorates, and the rakyat is now, after May 9, more daring and no longer hesitant to punish elected representative who do not uphold their rights by voting them out during the next general election.

Despite DAP not having a single MP from Sabah at that point of time in 1976, the party representatives knew that Sabahans and Sarawakians are being shortchanged by the amendment and had ferociously opposed the same.

I had also previously on the 5 April 2016, in my capacity as Sri Tanjong state assemblyman, filed a motion in the Sabah State Assembly calling for the Assembly to reject Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution that was amended in 1976, and to enact the necessary laws to declare Sabah an equal partner to Peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak. Unfortunately, this motion never got debated let alone passed.

It was a sad time previously under Barisan, but I believe that this time around, common sense will prevail.

Chan Foong Hin
Media statement by Chan Foong Hin in Kota Kinabalu on Monday, 18th March 2019