KUCHING, April 25: PBK president Voon Lee Shan says he put a RM50 million penalty on himself if he were to leave the party as he is committed to seeing Sarawak achieve independence. “I won’t mind disclosing to the public that I had been approached last year to jump ship and to dissolve the party.
“I have my commitment to the party and I have a commitment to the people of Sarawak to set Sarawak free and independent from the federation of Malaysia. For this reason, I put a price tag of RM50 million on myself of my commitment to the people of Sarawak of this struggle,” he added.
Voon in a press statement today said there is no need for Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president Tan Sri James Masing to press the panic button to say that PBK’s Candidates Agreement (CA) is a political gimmick.
Parti Bumi Kenyalang (PBK)’s Candidates Agreement (CA) was drafted to protect the party’s vision and mission, including exercising democracy, said PBK president Voon Lee Shan. According to Voon, PBK placed a price tag of RM20 million on all potential candidates who will be contesting under the party banner because it believes its product, “In Quest Of Independence”, is sale-able and each candidate using this product, is worth more than RM20 million.
“The Agreement was drafted after I discovered a few aspirants who wished to stand under PBK’s tickets had been approached by political opponents not to stand elections or to “jump ship” from PBK.
“To the party, this was a serious matter because political opponents are finding ways to derail the party and its leaders to ensure PBK will not be able to achieve its vision and mission. Politicians and political ideals are not for sale because this is not what democracy wants,” he said.
Voon asserted that PBK in the past two years gained the confidence of voters as a serious contender to capture the Sarawak government in the coming 12th State Election (PRN12) and it is expected political opponents have felt the heat of the presence of PBK.
Voon opined Sarawak has the legal right to seek freedom and independence from the Federation of Malaysia by legal and peaceful means under United Nations Assembly Resolutions 1514 and 1541, besides legal rights under domestic and international laws.
He said Masing’s awareness of the anti-party hopping provision in Article 17(7) of the Sarawak Constitution is very much appreciated, and this provision which regulates the behavior of elected parliamentarians had not been repealed and is still a good law to protect the dignity of the August House (State Legislative Assembly).
“Article 17(7) of the Sarawak Constitution also protects the trust placed by the voters on their elected YBs but the provision provides no protection to political parties if the elected reps “jumped ship”. It was for this reason in order to protect the party, PBK came with the CA to tie down all potential candidates from jumping ships.
“[The] Sarawak Constitution does not say political parties could not protect its interest in the event elected reps wish to jump ship. Therefore, PBK does not see anything wrong to come with the CA,” he explained.
Voon pointed out that he has studied the law of freedom of association in many countries including the United Kingdom, United States of America, India, Pakistan, Australia, Canada and New Zealand before drafting the CA with input from foreign lawyers and a foreign law professor.
“As far as I know and correct me if I am wrong, the constitutionality of Article 17(7) of the Sarawak Constitution which came into force from November 24, 1976, had yet to be tested before the court.
Therefore, for Tan Sri James Masing to say that CA is unconstitutional and goes against the right to form or freedom of association is incorrect or could mislead the public.
“If Article 17(7) of the Sarawak Constitution had been ruled unconstitutional by the court there is no reason this provision had not been repealed. Therefore, it is still good law and constitutional to protect voters’ interest in Sarawak Legislature(State Legislative Assembly),” he said.
He opined Masing may need his legal team to study Article 17(7) of the Sarawak Constitution and relevant Articles in the Federal Constitution and to advise him accordingly before making comments on mechanisms taken by PBK to discourage party hopping and before coming to say what was done by PBK as a political gimmick. “It is an insult to democracy and pro independence Sarawakians,” he said.
Voon continued, it is observed that Article 51 of the Federal Constitution mandates the requirement of a resignation by any parliamentarian and this should be a prelude to antihopping laws. “Why should a parliamentarian resign unless he or she intends to switch loyalties and allegiances? Article 53 FC also provides an answer to anti-hopping laws when it calls for disqualification of an elected representative.
“Further, Article 49 FC provides against double membership. This Article discourages a parliamentarian to leave his or her party and to become an Independent. This has an overtone of double membership.
“I guess Tan Sri James Masing is feeling the heat in Balleh (sic) now when he said PBK’s Candidates Agreement is a political gimmick because political opponents including PBK are hot at his heels,” said Voon.