Hornbill Unleashed

May 4, 2017

Referendum bill to be proposed in Sarawak assembly

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 8:03 AM

see-1A private member’s bill to provide for citizens-initiated referendums will be proposed at the coming Sarawak state assembly sitting.

If tabled and passed, it will be the first time the electorate will be able to vote directly on a particular proposal or issue raised by the citizenry.

The bill will be proposed by Sarawak PKR.

“It will not be like UK’s Brexit,” said Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How, who will be putting forward the Citizens Initiated Referendum (CIR) Bill 2017 at the coming sitting, to be held from May 11 to 22.

“This is an indicative referendum, meaning it is not binding on the government (based on the outcome of the referendum),” See told reporters at PKR’s state headquarters here today.

“You can have the majority of people saying ‘yes’, for example, they want LRT. But the government may feel that they don’t want LRT and they don’t care about it.”

Currently, Malaysia has no legal ordinance regarding the holding of any referendum.

The proposed CIR bill would only affect Sarawak and does not allow for a referendum on issues that encroach on the constitution, like calls for secession.

The proposed 26-page bill, made available to the press, shows the indicative referendum petition can be initiated by any individual or a group and be presented to the state assembly.

After the wording of the question is determined, the proposer then has six months to collect the signatures of eligible voters in support of the motion to call for a referendum.

At least 10% of the state’s voting population must support any motion for a referendum to be held. Sarawak has a voting population of one million.

When asked if an indicative referendum would be a pointless and expensive exercise as the government is not bound to legislate or change its policy to conform with the outcome, See disagreed.

“It can be persuasive because the people of Sarawak are directly voting on a particular issue.

“If the government chooses to ignore the result, then those who voted in the referendum have something to base their decision on the next time they go for elections.”

Under the late chief minister Adenan Satem, three motions from the opposition were passed, albeit with amendments or were taken up by BN state lawmakers in modified forms.

A motion by See to provide for financial allocations for local councils to install closed-circuit televisions (CCTV) in all major residential estates was taken up and passed in November 2014.

Another motion, put forward by state DAP leader Chong Chieng Jen to request the federal government for an increase in the oil royalty, from 5% to 20%, was passed unanimously in May 2014.

More recently, however, a motion by state PKR leader Baru Bian to reclaim Sarawak’s rights by reversing the 1976 amendment to Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution was thrown out last November.

Adenan had said that such a stance by Sarawakian lawmakers would not be helpful in his negotiations with the federal government.

Adenan passed away on Jan 11 from heart failure.

His successor, Abang Johari Openg, was sworn in days later. The coming assembly would be Abang Johari’s first as state BN chairman.

Source : Richard T.W. @ FMT Online



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