Govt presses pause on MA63 bill

The cabinet has decided to seek more explanations from the AG.

Putrajaya has put a major constitutional amendment bill that would have redefined the meaning of the federation on hold.

The bill, put forth by de facto Law Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar and believed to be widely supported by East Malaysian MPs, is not on the Dewan Rakyat order paper published on Friday (Oct 22).

When contacted, Wan Junaidi told Malaysiakini that the cabinet has decided to seek more explanations from the attorney-general on the bill.

He declined to specify when the bill will be tabled.

Originally, Wan Junaidi had planned to table the bill on Oct 26. Cabinet last met on Oct 20. The Dewan Rakyat will convene on Oct 25 and Budget 2022 will be tabled on Oct 29.

Wan Junaidi had briefed MPs on the bill earlier this month. It is learned that the bill, among others, will seek to amend Article 160(2).

Article 160(2) is a glossary of several expressions used in the Constitution. One such expression is “the federation”, which is defined as “the federation established under the Federation of Malaya Agreement 1957”.

The new definition proposed by Wan Junaidi reads as follows:

“‘The federation’ means the federation that was first established under the Federation of Malaya Agreement 1957 and further pursuant to an agreement concluded on July 9, 1963, between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Federation of Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore.

“The federation is called Malaysia with colonies of North Borneo and Sarawak and the state of Singapore 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 thereto but under and by virtue of the agreement relating to the separation of Singapore from Malaysia as an independent and sovereign state dated Aug 7, 1965, Singapore has ceased to be a state of Malaysia.”

Delay a setback for GPS

If passed, this will be the first time the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) is acknowledged in the Federal Constitution.

The delay of this bill will be a setback for its chief proponent Gabungan Parti Sarawak – a coalition which Wan Junaidi represents and is facing a state legislative assembly election soon.

The first order of business for the Dewan Rakyat is the selection of a second deputy speaker. The seat was vacated by Pengerang MP Azalina Said Othman in August.

The frontrunners for the second deputy speaker on the government side is unclear while the Pakatan Harapan bloc intends to nominate Teluk Intan MP Nga Kor Ming, who has taken on the role before.

The second agenda will be a motion by Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob to annul seven emergency ordinances that were promulgated earlier this year under emergency.

Although the emergency expired on Aug 1, the emergency ordinances – including rules which allow governments to seek supplementary budgets without Parliament scrutiny – are still in effect for another six months by virtue of Article 150(7) of the Federal Constitution.

Ismail Sabri’s motion argued that the annulling of the emergency ordinances was a constitutional requirement under Article 150(3).

This motion will inadvertently embarrass former law minister Takiyuddin Hassan and former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin who argued that the annulment through Parliament was not necessary.

Takiyuddin had already earned a rebuke from Istana Negara over his claims in Parliament but escaped being referred to the Rights and Privileges Committee for allegedly misleading the House.

The order paper does not contain any new bills.

By : KOW GAH CHIE – MALAYSIAKINI

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