Padungan rep: Amendment to Sarawak Land Bill relating to control of state airspace may be unconstitutional

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Chong Chieng Jen said spectrum falls under Item 10 of the Federal List of the Ninth Schedule concerning communication and transport, including airways, aircraft and air navigation, civil aerodromes and provisions for the safety of aircraft. — Bernama pic
Chong Chieng Jen said spectrum falls under Item 10 of the Federal List of the Ninth Schedule concerning communication and transport, including airways, aircraft and air navigation, civil aerodromes and provisions for the safety of aircraft. — Bernama pic

KUCHING, May 18 — DAP’s Padungan assemblyman Chong Chieng Jen today said the Sarawak Land Code (Amendment) Bill relating to the control of state airspace may run afoul of the Federal Constitution.

He asked with the passing of the Bill who has the authority over both airspace and spectrum.

“We must look at our Federal Constitution. I have some reservations about this aspect of the amendment to the Bill,” he said during the debate on the Sarawak Land Code (Amendment) Bill tabled by state Deputy Minister of Law, MA63 and State-Federal Relations Datuk Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali this morning.

“This provision of the Bill may be in contravention of the Federal Constitution,” Chong said.

He said the right of the state assembly and Parliament to legislate matters in this country are provided for in the Ninth Schedule of the Federal Constitution with the State List, Federal List and Concurrent List.

He said there is no provision under the State List or Concurrent List that details spectrum as a state’s right.

Chong said spectrum falls under Item 10 of the Federal List of the Ninth Schedule concerning communication and transport, including airways, aircraft and air navigation, civil aerodromes and provisions for the safety of aircraft.

“I have no objection to the state government trying to secure extra revenue, but we are bound by the Federal Constitution, and any law that is contrary to the Federal Constitution will be deemed invalid.

“If the state government wishes to legislate or to obtain its rights over spectrum passing through Sarawak airspace, then the proper way is to table an amendment to the Federal Constitution in Parliament first before legislating a Bill claiming that we have a right.

“I think this amendment to the land code is unconstitutional and it is incumbent upon me to raise this concern.

“Why should we pass a law that could be challenged in court as being unconstitutional?”

“No matter how you want to stretch the definition of land, I don’t think that it would extend upwards of 1,000 feet or 2,000 feet and 3,000 feet,” he said.

The land code amendment seeks to give the state government control of Sarawak airspace, and control of any property in that airspace including, but not limited to, spectrum, while also regulating the installation, maintenance and occupation of any structure in that airspace.


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