Lawyer says repeal of laws necessary to return Sarawak, Sabah rights

By Sulok Tawie

KUCHING, Sept 19 — A series of federal laws passed since 1965 should be repealed first in order to restore the rights of Sarawak and Sabah as enshrined in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), Sarawak-born Australian lawyer Robert Pei said today.

He said in a statement the federal laws include the Constitution and Malaysia (Singapore Amendment) Act, 1965, (CMAA65), Continental Shelf Act 1966 (CSA66 lapsed in 2011) and the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA74).

“Act 354 1976 (amending Article 1 of the Federal Constitution) and the Territorial Seas Act 2012 (TSA2012) which took away Sabah’s and Sarawak’s special rights were illegal back door amendments of the MA63 treaty,” Pei argued.

The president of the Sabah Sarawak Rights — Australia New Zealand (SSRANZ), a non-governmental organisation based in Australia, explained that the CMAA65 was an Act passed by the Malaysian Parliament to allow Singapore’s exit from the Federation in August 1965.

“It had the effect of altering the agreed international boundaries of Malaysia and destroying the basis of four countries for forming the federation,” he said.

“The CSA66, PDA74, ACT354 and TSA2012 had altered and reduced the agreed pre-1963 territorial boundaries of Sabah and Sarawak to enable the federal government seizure of their territorial water resources, in breach of MA63,” he said.

Pei pointed out that Part 1(3) of the Federal Constitution, which was authorised by MA63 and read subject to the treaty as the supreme document establishing the federation, specifically recognised Sabah and Sarawak’s territorial boundaries as those fixed by the former British colonial government in 1956.

He said this was reinforced by the Oil Mining Ordinance 1958 which applies to both states.

He believed it is quite impossible for the new federal government to make more than just a nominal restoration of the states “equal partner status”, which is on its face a straightforward parliamentary voting exercise.

Pei said the Pakatan Harapan government must move a motion to declare as unconstitutional and repeal the PDA74, ACT354 and TSA2012 and all legislations which had violated MA63, if it wants to be seen as genuinely fair and just.

He believed that the Sabah and Sarawak governments would be more than happy to oblige by instructing their federal parliament members to support the Pakatan government which would then have the two-thirds majority to constitutionally repeal these laws as stated by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad at a Malaysia Day celebration last Sunday in Kota Kinabalu.

He said the prime minister might have been referring to ACT 354 as a two-thirds majority is only necessary to amend ACT 354 which was a constitutional amendment.

“But it seems unnecessary to have a two-third majority to repeal the other acts as done with the repeal of CSA66 and the Internal Security Act 1960, adding that these were not Acts specifically intended to amend the Federation Constitution,” he said.

However, Pei pointed out that it was not just a matter of restoring the two states’ “regional autonomy” status but also repairing the deleterious social economic impact on their people after five decades of federal neglect and exploitation of their petroleum wealth.

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