A SARAWAK pro-autonomy advocate has called on Sarawak Premier Abang Johari Openg to propose the term “constituent province” instead of “region” for Sarawak in his coming meeting with Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.
According to Peter John Jaban, that would better reflect the political aspirations of Sarawak people for greater autonomy.
He said the term “constituent province” would convey an appropriate status for Sarawak.
“It is used, for example, in the Province of Quebec in Canada or the Province of Aceh in Indonesia, both of which have autonomy over various matters including language, economy, taxation, education and even resource rights.
“Moreover, it is not a term currently in use within the Malaysian constitution,” Jaban said when asked to respond to the on-going debate especially on social media on the proposal to change the status of Sarawak and Sabah from states to regions.
The debate over the status of the two Borneo states was reignited when Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, in his policy speech at the Umno general assembly last Friday, said Sabah and Sarawak have been accorded the status of region and are no longer regarded as states of Malaysia.
With the greatest of respect, Sabah and Sarawak are states of Malaysia, not region or province.
Malaysia is the name of the federation pursuant to “an agreement relating to Malaysia” which came into force on September 16, 1963. The agreement is an international treaty popularly referred to as MA63.
It was registered by Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the first parties to MA63, in the United Nations on September 21, 1970, with registration number of 10760.
Article I of MA63 states as follows:
The Colonies of North Borneo (Sabah) and Sarawak and the State of Singapore shall be federated with the existing States of the Federation of Malaya as the States of Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore in accordance with the constitutional instruments annexed to this Agreement and the Federation shall thereafter be called “Malaysia”.
Article II states as follows:
The Government of the Federation of Malaya will take such steps as may be appropriate and available to them to secure the enactment by the Parliament of the Federation of Malaya of an Act in the form set out in Annex A to this Agreement and that it is brought into operation on [16th September 1963 (and the date on which the said Act is brought into operation is hereinafter referred to as “Malaysia Day”).
The second party to MA63, the Federation of Malaya had indeed given effect to MA63 by its Parliament passing the Malaysia Act 1963. The Federal Constitution on September 16, 1963 had incorporated the terms of MA63.
Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution in 1963 was pursuant to article II of MA63 and in the form as set out in annex A of MA63, namely:
The States of the Federation shall be —