1966 Sarawak constitutional crisis

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The 1966 Sarawak constitutional crisis took place in the state of Sarawak, Malaysia. The crisis broke out after 21 out of 42 members of the state legislature declared that they did not have confidence in Stephen Kalong Ningkan, the then chief minister of Sarawak.[1] The 21 assemblymen wrote to the governor of Sarawak stating that they have lost confidence in the chief minister. The governor, Abang Haji Openg, at the insistence of the federal government in Kuala Lumpur,[2] requested Stephen to resign from the post, however, Stephen refused to resign. The governor then declared that Stephen has ceased to hold office and appointed Tawi Sli as the new chief minister.

Following the ouster, Stephen sued the governor and the court held that his ouster was illegal.[1][3]

However following the court's decision, the federal government declared a state of emergency in Sarawak in September 1966 and Tawi Sli was reinstated as chief minister.[4]

It was widely believed that the ouster of Stephen was a result of interference by the federal government of Malaysia due to him being a strong advocate of greater state autonomy.[5][6]


  1. ^ a b "The saga of Stephen Kalong Ningkan – the conclusion". The Borneo Post. 26 April 2010. Retrieved 27 April 2011. 
  2. ^ Shaari Isa (2014). Vendetta and Abuse of Power. MPH Publishing. p. 62. ISBN 9789674151508. 
  3. ^ Stephen Kalong Ningkan v. Tun Abang Haji Openg and Tawi Sli, 2 MLJ 187 (1966).
  4. ^ Imtiaz Omar (1996). Rights, Emergencies and Judicial Review. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. p. 135. 
  5. ^ "Weakened federalism in the new federation". The Sun (Malaysia). 25 July 2007. Retrieved 29 April 2011. 
  6. ^ Boon Kheng Cheah (2002). Malaysia: The Making of a Nation. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. p. 60.