Sarawak rep wants state constitution amended to prevent non-locals from getting elected

Sulok Tawie

Muara Tuang state assemblyman Datuk Idris Buang said the general feeling is that Sarawak needs to be represented in the state assembly as well as in the national Parliament by only 'loyal and true blue Sarawakians'.— Picture courtesy of Datuk Idris Buang

KUCHING, Feb 18 — Muara Tuang state assemblyman Datuk Idris Buang today urged the state government to amend Article 16 of the State Constitution to prevent non-Sarawakians from becoming the elected members of the Legislative Assembly.

He said the definition of the term “resident” in the Article is rather loose and it does not prevent anyone who is not Sarawakian to contest in the state election.

“I humbly urge our leaders in Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) state government to consider tabling such necessary amendments Bill in the next State Assembly sitting, if possible, because the present Article 16 is rather obsolete and irrelevant to the present trend in Sarawak,” he said.

He said he is disturbed with Article 16 that states “every citizen of or over the age of twenty-one years who is resident in the state is qualified to be elected as an elected member of the Dewan Undangan Negeri”.

“There are various meanings of the word ‘resident’ as could be found in some English or even law dictionaries, adding that there is no minimum or specific length of time covering a particular stay or residency, so as to gauge a standard or an inductive meaning of the word ‘resident’ under the said Article 16.

“For example, in Merriam-Webster, ‘resident’ is defined as ‘one who resides in a place.” Idris, who is also a lawyer by profession and PBB information chief, said.

“Therefore one could see that the definition of resident in the present Article 16 is quite loose in the sense that it might include any person who has been taking a stay or residency in the state for even a short period, say, a few months or a year or so, may well have satisfied the requirement of the present Article 16,” he said.

He said the subject of “patriotism to Sarawak” took centre stage following a recent Federal Court’s decision to disqualify Dr Ting Tiong Choon as a member of the state assembly, representing Pujut.

“The general feeling is that Sarawak needs to be represented in the state assembly as well as in the national Parliament by only loyal and true blue Sarawakians in every sense of the word,” he said.

Idris also said what matters is that Sarawakians need to jealously protect the state from the “virus” of nasty political culture and distasteful politickings as could be seen to affect all the peninsula-based parties.

“There has been continuous political undercurrent that regularly showed its racial sparks in all the parties there across the board which thereby leads to the heavy overcast of uncertainty in our nation’s social political and economic climate .

“We therefore do not wish the prevalent tranquility and feel-good ambience in our state to be trampled,” he said.

Idris said Sarawakians have enough of “nasty” kind of politics and political culture in Peninsular Malaysia, and many consider such nasty culture as a kind of “virus” which should not be spread easily to Sarawak.

“Even now and then, we could see that there are members of the Peninsula-based parties who have been openly keen in bringing and stirring outrageous statements trying to arouse instability using racial tones and sentiments.

“It is therefore high time for the majority of Sarawakians to stamp our foot down against such egregious efforts of unscrupulous politicians who have been influenced and have the support from across the South China Sea.

“We cannot afford any kind of racial stirs or political instability in Sarawak,” he said.

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