Press Statement By Michael Kong:
DAP Sarawak is never against the amendment so that only Sarawakians are qualified to be an elected member of the State Legislative Assembly. However one must remember that the Constitution of the State of Sarawak is the supreme law of the land. Any amendment to the constitution should then be well thought out.
Under the newly amended constitution, only two categories of persons qualify as ‘resident in the state’, namely:-
(1) a citizen born in the state of Sarawak whose parents or either of them is also born in the state and he is normally resident in the state, or
(2) a citizen not born in the state whose parents or either of them was born in the state and he is normally resident in the state.
The amendment was proposed by Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah and seconded by SUPP Vice President, Lee Kim Shin. SUPP particularly Sim Kui Hian is fixated on the first limb of the amendment while conveniently not addressing the second limb which is the main concern for DAP.
SUPP and its staunch supporters are claiming that this amendment is an act to ‘tighten’ the constitution and to limit it to only true Sarawakians. This is entirely untrue and one only has to look into the possible scenarios arising from the second limb to understand the consequences of the amendment.
It is within public knowledge that Toh Puan Ragad Kurdi Taib has two sons. Toh Puan Ragad Kurdi Taib is now a Malaysian citizen and is a registered voter in Sarawak. Sometime in 2017, the GPS government (then known as BN) also gazetted Toh Puan and her two sons as a Native of Sarawak. The only question left lingering in the minds of many is whether her two sons are now also Malaysian citizens. If they are now Malaysians, by this new Sarawak Constitution, they will be qualified to stand for election to be a member of the Sarawak Legislative Assembly.
Some detractors have tried to argue that Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud is not the biological parent and therefore the amendment does not apply in this situation. This is entirely incorrect because the constitution only mentions ‘parent’ and not ‘biological parent’. A constitution should be read as it is and one should not read into the constitution matters that are not there. In Black’s Law Dictionary, a ‘parent’ is defined as the lawful father and mother of the person. Therefore by his marriage to Toh Puan Ragad Kurdi Taib, our TYT, Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud, is the parent of her two sons. With that, Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud’s two step-sons though not born in the state of Sarawak with one of their parent, Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud being born in Sarawak, they can now run for elections if they are now normally residing in Sarawak.
As previously stated, there must be absolute clarity in the Constitution. With the full team of legal officers in the Sarawak State Attorney General’s chambers, can’t the GPS government draft it with more clarity? Why does the GPS Government purposely leave some ambiguity with the new amendment?
Michael Kong Feng Nian
Special Assistant to YB Chong Chieng Jen