By DR KELVIN YII
COMMENT: I welcome the announcement of the first meeting of the steering committee of the Special Cabinet for Malaysian Agreement 1963 chaired by the Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad attended by both Chief Ministers of Sabah and Sarawak on Monday, December 17, 2018, as part of the federal government’s efforts to restore Sabah and Sarawak’s status as equal partners in Malaysia.
Among all the necessary amendments including determining the rights of Sabah and Sarawak to natural resources as well as oil and gas, I also hope to see the amendment of Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution to restore the equal partner status of Sabah and Sarawak in the Federation as well as a proper revision of the special grants to Sarawak under Article 112(d) of the Federal Constitution.
This is a historic step in restoring what is rightfully ours as well as correcting the wrongs of the previous government especially when it involves our autonomy as well as equal standing in the federation.
I welcome these committees especially the fact that it involves different minds from different fields that will examine and identify the necessary legal rectifications needed to restore our rights under the Malaysian Agreement 1963.
This is for me the main difference compared to the Committee under the previous Barisan Nasional government which then discussions were mainly done behind closed doors among politicians from only 1 political divide.
This topic especially that involves the interest of the people of Sarawak and Sabah goes across political dichotomy and I do welcome this step of inclusion of representatives from the GPS Sarawak government.
While there were reservations expressed by the GPS government on the composition of the committee, but based on my recent conversation with the de facto Law Minister YB Datuk Liew Vui Keong, he has given assurance that any decision made in the committee will be based on consensus rather than a majority vote.
This assurance was also communicated with the Chief Minister Abang Johari before thus allaying the concerns that their voices will be drowned out.
On top of that, I also welcome the passing of the motion to add additional members from Sabah and Sarawak to the steering committee to give more representation as well as input from different leaders namely Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Wilfred Madius Tangau, Deputy Speaker of the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly Gerawat Gala, Sarawak Assistant Minister of Law, State-Federal Relations and Project Monitoring Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman, Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Chong Chieng Jen and former Sabah state attorney-general Stephen Foo.
This step is an important step in regaining our rights under MA63 and also shows sincerity and political will in recognising our special status and rights under the framework of MA63.
I myself that brought this issue up in Parliament multiple times not just because this is part of our manifesto and promise, but also it is important for the interest of the people in Sabah and Sarawak who were short-changed and had our rights including those to equitable distribution of wealth and reasonable development in the state, taken away over the years under the previous BN government.
I do hope that the committee and also cabinet will act on the recommendations after the set timeframe, and not just produce a report that is nice to see or nice to read, but no tangible and proactive steps to address all the necessary wrongs.
• Dr Kelvin Yii is the Member of Parliament for Bandar Kuching