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Passed – Bill on who can become a YB in Sarawak
Published on: Friday, November 13, 2020
By: Agencies
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KUCHING: The Sarawak legislative assembly Thursday passed a Bill to amend the state’s constitution to define a “resident in the state” and lower the age at which a person can contest in a State election from 21 to 18.

The Constitution of the State of Sarawak (Amendment) Bill 2020 was passed by majority vote after the third reading.

Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, who tabled the Bill, said only Sarawak-born citizens and Sarawak citizens born outside the state (to parents, one of whom must be born in the state) and normally reside in the state, would be eligible to be elected as a state assembly member.

“With the passing of the Bill, people with no Sarawakian connection either by birth or the birth of their parents and do not normally reside in Sarawak will be disqualified,” he said.

Karim said the term “normally resident” had been judicially defined to connote “residence with some degree of continuity and apart from accidental or temporary absences”.

“That degree of continuity should be demonstrated, for instance, by having a house, a family, or a place of work in Sarawak.

“Therefore, a Sarawak-born person would not be qualified to stand for election after this amendment if he is already a resident outside the state or permanently resides outside the state or in a foreign country like Australia,” he said.

He also said he had withdrawn the Bill tabled on Monday so that the people would not be confused by the opposition as to the real intent and objective of the amendment to Article 16 of the State Constitution.

“I tabled a new Bill (today) which would remove any ambiguity as to the definition of a ‘resident’ in the state,” he said.

He said the State Government was concerned that based on previous judicial interpretation, any non-Sarawakian from other states, residing in the state by reason of having work permits, or serving in the federal public service, police or armed forces, would be qualified to stand in Sarawak elections.

“We do not want people from outside Sarawak to meddle in our affairs and play any role in determining the destiny of our state.

“Our policy is to ensure that Sarawak’s interests must be safeguarded by Sarawakians, and outsiders should not come with their brand of politics that would destabilise our state and affect the harmony and unity of our people.

“We also want to prevent potential infiltration by non-Sarawakians and those who are not living permanently in Sarawak from seeking election to the august house and claim to be representing the people of Sarawak,” he said.

Also passed was a Bill to amend Article 16 of the State Constitution to lower the minimum age required for a person to become an elected representative from 21 to 18 years old.



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