KUCHING, Feb. 15 – Ba Kelalan Assemblyman Baru Bian will not support the Sarawak State Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2022, unless the proposed change to the term Chief Minister in “First” is deleted.
He proposed that the Federal Constitution be amended first to include the term “Prime Minister”, in the same way that the definition of “native” was amended under Section 160(2) of the Federal Constitution.
Baru said while he understood, appreciated and argued that the rationale behind the decision to change the term ‘chief minister’ to ‘prime minister’ was to elevate Sarawak’s status following the recent amendment to the Federal Constitution and to differentiate Sarawak from the States. in the peninsula, his concern is that the amendment could be called unconstitutional.
According to him, nowhere in historical documents and the Federal Constitution is the word “Prime Minister” used in relation to the Chief Minister of Sarawak.
“I note that there is a deeming provision in Section 5 of the Bill in which Section 44 of the Constitution of Sarawak is amended to include this clause: ‘Any reference to the Chief Minister in any written law shall refer to the Prime Minister”.
“However, such deeming clauses cannot be applied to the historical documents upon which the foundations of this country were built. Neither can the state legislature legislate to alter the supreme law of the land,” he said during the debate on the Sarawak State Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2022 in the state legislature today.
He also noted that by changing the term “Chief Minister” to “Prime Minister” without concurrent amendment in the Federal Constitution, it could be said that the amendment would destroy the basic structure of the Federal Constitution as it would render certain provisions void. meaningless and would create confusion. .
“Will this amendment be covered by Article 4 of the Federal Constitution being “incompatible” with the supreme law of the Land and therefore unconstitutional?
“It seems to me, in all probability, so. Further, I would venture to say that the deeming provision of the proposed amending bill would not be considered applicable to the Federal Constitution if challenged in court.
“Such unilateral amendments would create ambiguities, and the government should exercise caution in this regard,” he warned.
Baru felt it is more important to focus on implementing Sarawak’s rights and reclaiming the promises made when Malaysia was formed.
He said the Sarawak government should also take concrete action on the motion that was passed unanimously in 2015 by the DUN to demand that Putrajaya implement rights under the 1963 Malaysia Agreement mandating the state government to review all federal legislation, including to amend or repeal laws that infringe upon the state’s rights over its natural resources.
“These laws include the Territorial Sea Act 2012 which limited the territorial waters of the state to less than three nautical miles from the coast, the Continental Shelf Act and the Petroleum Act 1966.
“It would be better to take concrete steps that will concretely benefit Sarawak and Sarawakians than to rush into a name change that might bring some personal satisfaction but could ultimately be criticized for being unconstitutional,” he said. .
He said that the rest of the bill was acceptable and that he would have no problem with it, with the exception of the term “prime minister”.
“With the greatest respect, my position on this bill is that I will oppose it on this one factor alone, changing the term ‘Chief Minister’ to ‘Prime Minister’, unless he is removed from the bill. I understand that my colleagues from the PSB (Sarawak Bersatu Party) are of the same opinion,” he added. — Bernama