KUCHING (Nov 22): Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah lashed out at Democratic Action Party (DAP) Sarawak chairman Chong Chieng Jen for criticising the recent constitution amendment Bill.
Abdul Karim said Chong’s criticism was just a ploy to save his own face and his party’s stand after realising that there was nothing wrong with the amendment Bill.
“YB Chong could not reverse his stand and DAP’s stand despite knowing the truth that with the passing of the Bill, only Sarawakians or Sarawak connected individuals can sit in the Sarawak State Assembly (DUN).
“His denial is purely political and to save his face and the stand of his party,” he told The Borneo Post today.
Abdul Karim was commenting on Chong’s statement on Friday, claiming that the constitutional amendment could also deny true Sarawakians the right to be elected as state assemblymen.
Chong, who is Kota Sentosa assemblyman, asked why the word ‘biological’ was not included in the amendment Bill, which was tabled and passed in the august House on Nov 12.
“The simple question is that if biological parents were truly intended by the amendment, why was the word ‘biological’ not included in the amendment bill?
“And why are the GPS ministers so quiet about it, leaving it to an ex-DAP state assemblyman (Wong King Wei) to lead the defence for GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak?” asked Chong.
Asked to comment further, Abdul Karim said he had said enough on the amendment, and it had been debated enough during the last DUN sitting.
“I have commented enough on this amendment. It has been debated and deliberated at length in the DUN and in social media,” he said.
DAP and Parti Sarawak Bersatu had opposed the amendment Bill during the sitting more than a week ago, which had sought to lower the age of eligibility to be elected into DUN and define the words ‘resident in the state’ in Article 16 of the constitution.
While the opposition bench supported the move to lower the eligibility age from 21 to 18, they disagreed with its definition of ‘resident’.
The amendment says only two categories of people would be qualified as “resident in the state” – a citizen born in Sarawak, whose parents or either of them was also born in the state and he is normally resident in the state; or a citizen, though not born in the state, whose parents or either of them was born in the state and he is normally resident in the state.