KOTA SAMARAHAN, 16 Dec 2008: Sarawak will not quickly jump to conclusion that the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) Bill will erode the constitutional rights of the state as claimed.
Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said the present lively debate on the JAC Bill by various quarters should be viewed positively although he had yet to study the Bill due to his busy schedule.
“Let’s listen to the debate first. We have to move step by step in this kind of development. How fast? It is up to the legal professionals to express their views. I have an open mind,” he told reporters after the launching of the book entitled Samarahan, Dari Kampung Terpencil Ke Desa Ilmu, at Dewan Suarah, here, today.
Taib said although the Federal Constitution guarantees the constitutional rights of Sabah and Sarawak, sometimes a slight adjustment had to be made from time to time to meet the current social and political needs of the country.
“I think there is no constitutional provision which says everything should be preserved as it is. There was an understanding that Sarawak should remain the way it was when we joined Malaysia, but there is the process of growing and developing to become more and more national in structure.
“Let the debate (on JAC Bill) continue and see how we can accommodate change as well as prevent the change from putting the people in Sarawak into serious disadvantage,” he said.
DAP, one of the vocal critics of the JAC Bill, has claimed that if the Bill is passed it will infringe the constitutional rights of Sabah and Sarawak.
Making it clear that DAP wanted the Bill tabled by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi recently to be further scrutinised, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said Sabah and Sarawak’s rights would be affected if due consideration was not given to Articles 122B and 161E(2)(b).
“These two articles in the Federal Constitution serve to preserve, protect and promote the rights of Sabah and Sarawak over the appointment, removal and suspension of judges of the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak,” he was quoted as saying at the 14th Sarawak DAP annual conference on 14 Dec.
Lim explained that the Bill would override the power of the Yang di-Pertua Negeri of the respective states over the appointment, promotion and suspension of judges. — Bernama