NGOs demand more than symbolic changes

Kuching: Persatuan Intelektual Pribumi Sarawak (PERANTIS) opined that amendments to Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution have no real meaning unless accompanied by changes to Article 160(2).

The latter defines an interpretation of “federal” that is important for contextualizing the status of Sabah and Sarawak within Malaysia pursuant to the Malaysian Agreement 1963 (MA63).

The association said that while the proposed amendments may recognize a historic agreement in the constitution (the first in history), long-standing problems will only begin to be resolved after further amendments.

“This paves the way for necessary adjustments and amendments to be made in the State Legislative Assembly to restore Sarawak’s rights, which have been overlooked for 60 years,” Perantis said in a statement.

The group also proposed that the name of the state Legislative Assembly be changed to Sarawak Legislative Assembly and that the members of the state assembly be referred to as Sarawak Members of Parliament/Women. The move aims to more accurately reflect the role and status of states within the Union.

Mr Perantis also emphasized the importance of fair resource sharing in Malaysia, stressing that dividends should be distributed based on factors such as Sarawak’s contribution to the national finances. These contributions include federal revenues from state natural resources and local tax collections.

Addressing future priorities, the association urged the central government to prioritize the development needs of Sabah and Sarawak in the 2025 budget.

“Given the continued presence of underdeveloped areas and inadequate infrastructure, a review and possible revision of MA63 is essential to correct past oversights,” it added.

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