KOTA KINABALU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Pakatan Harapan needs to secure a two-thirds majority in Parliament before the ruling coalition can make amendments to the Federal Constitution for Sabah and Sarawak to be equal partners in the federation, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said today (Sept 17).
It would take time for Pakatan to make the amendments as they were still working on the numbers to achieve a two-thirds majority, he said. The coalition currently has 125 out of 222 seats in the Dewan Rakyat. The support of 148 MPs are needed before the Federal Constitution can be amended.
"We have to figure out how we can achieve a two-thirds majority.
"But in the meantime we will study what needs to be repealed and substituted with new provisions in the Federal Constitution," Dr Mahathir said.
The Pakatan chairman was speaking a day after he announced that the equal partner status of the two states would be restored in line with the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
On a question about the timeframe expected to achieve this, Dr Mahathir said that it would depend on the people working on the matter and the "push by Sabah and Sarawak".
Although many opposition MPs had voiced willingness to support the restoration of rights owed to the two states under the MA63, Dr Mahathir said this could only be truly revealed once the matter was brought to Parliament as they could be saying something else and doing another.
Citing the example of repeal of the Anti-Fake News Act 2018, which hit a snag after the Dewan Negara voted against it, Dr Mahathir said Pakatan "lost" as they did not have a majority in the 70-seat Senate.
He also admitted that there were certain things being decided at federal level by people unfamiliar with the conditions in Sabah and Sarawak and the need to address this issue.
"Either we have more Sabahans and Sarawakians working in the peninsula and in the federal government or else we will need to have some of the decision-making transferred to Sabah and Sarawak," he added.
This could include matters related to education and infrastructure such as provision of water, said Dr Mahathir.