MA63 issues to be decided by Aug 31

The remaining 14 issues will be further deliberated and decided by month-end


THE special Cabinet steering committee on the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), is expected to arrive at a decision on all matters related to the restoration of Sabah and Sarawak’s status as equal partners in Malaysia by the end of this month.

The committee, chaired by Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (picture), has so far reached an agreement on seven out of 21 issues deemed as the two states rights’ to autonomy. These matters range from tax collection and education, to health and territorial domain.

In a statement issued by the PM’s Office yesterday, it said the remaining 14 issues will be further deliberated and decided by Aug 31.

The seven matters which have been resolved include demand for export duties for timber and forest produce, the power to distribute gas and labour force — all of which require amendments to existing laws.

The Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration has continued to carry out efforts to restore the status of Sabah and Sarawak as enshrined in MA63 despite its failure to secure a two-thirds majority to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution earlier in April.

The amendment to the Constitution, which currently groups all federation states into one, will put Sabah and Sarawak in another grouping, albeit still describing the two as “the States of the Federation”.

The two states lost a “golden opportunity” to regain their position as equal partners in Malaysia as many legislators, especially from the Opposition, abstained from voting at the Dewan Rakyat four months ago. PH required 148 votes, but only 138 lawmakers supported the move.

Dr Mahathir has since assured that the government will remain committed and negotiations will continue until a consensus is reached to be accepted by all parties. He had described the amendment to Article 1(2) as the first of many reforms planned by the government.

Minister in the PM’s Dept (law) Datuk Liew Vui Keong echoed his statement and said the government will continue to help Sabah and Sarawak regain their position as equal partners.

Sabah Chief Minister (CM) Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said his government would hold discussions with the Sarawak government to ensure support for the amendment to the Federal Constitution when it is tabled in Parliament in future.

The steering committee held its first meeting in December last year and has since had four meetings to-date. Members of the committee comprise Mohd Shafie, Sarawak CM Datuk Abang Johari Openg and several Cabinet members.