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KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 17 — Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau is confident that Putrajaya will fulfill its equal partnership pledge to Sabah and Sarawak.
The Sabah deputy chief minister commended Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for the prime minister’s commitment to restore the rights accorded to Sabah and Sarawak as enshrined in the Malaysia Agreement of 1963 yesterday, even as he acknowledged the necessity to get a two-thirds approval in Parliament.
“When there is political will, there is a way,” the optimistic Tangau said in statement tonight.
The acting president of Upko, a Sabah party allied to the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition, called on all MPs to set aside their political differences to support the government when it tables a Bill to amend the Federal Constitution.
“This is not a time for political rhetoric for political survival but we are dealing with our fundamental rights that have to be upheld, protected and defended,” he said.
He also said the pledge marks the start of tackling the decades-long problem of other inequalities plaguing Malaysia’s two Borneo territories.
“This is the beginning to tackle inequality for our people. This is the best time for us to revisit how we distributed wealth and how we should be recognising contribution from Mainland Malaysia,” he said.
Sabahans and Sarawakians see Borneo Malaysia as the mainland as their territories combined form a bigger land mass compared to the peninsula.
“We no longer need to self-pity and call anyone a bluff, let us look forward and do what is right and what is best for our people in Mainland Malaysia.
“Let us work together to re-engineer wealth distribution policies to reduce inequalities in many ways,” Tangau who is also Tuaran MP said.
Two-thirds support in the 222-seat Dewan Rakyat or 148 votes are required to revise Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution to restore equal status to Sabah and Sarawak.
Article 1(2) originally stated that the federation of Malaysia comprised the states of Malaya (Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Melaka, Negri Sembilan, Pahang, Penang, Perak, Perlis, Selangor and Terengganu), the Borneo states (Sabah and Sarawak), and Singapore (before its expulsion in August 1965).
But an amendment in the 1970s saw Sabah and Sarawak downgraded to just states in the federation.