KUCHING, Feb 16 — Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg today expressed his objection to a proposal by his Sabah counterpart Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal for the two Borneo states to be grouped under a single territory within the Malaysian federation.
He said the federation was formed by Malaya, Sarawak and Sabah as three territories under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 and Federal Constitution after Singapore was kicked out from the federation.
“If there is any dispute, then we must refer the matter to MA63 and the Constitution,” he told reporters after chairing Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu (PBB) supreme council here.
“We must stick to the original provisions of MA63 and the constitution,” the chief minister said when asked to respond Shafie’s proposal.
The Sabah chief minister was reported to have expressed his confidence that the federal government would approve his proposal to return the status of Sabah and Sarawak as one territory in Parliament in March.
The Sabah leader said he had discussed the matter with Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad during a meeting on the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
He had claimed the federal government would approve the proposal as it had been enshrined in the constitution and did not require any vote.
Abang Johari said Sarawak does not want to have anything to do with Sabah’s proposal for the two Borneo states to become a single territory instead of maintaining them as two territories.
“It is their business and it is up to them what they want to do, and it has nothing to do with us,” he said.
The chief minister said he also briefed PBB supreme council members on the last meeting of the Special Federal Cabinet Committee for the Review of MA63 and states’ rights.
“The supreme council members gave their full support to the state government on issues relating to state territorial boundary, immigration autonomous power, the right to enforce state ordinances in accordance with the Federal Constitution, protection on state’s borders and sovereignty on the sea, underground and resources within the state as non-negotiable.
“Our party’s stand on these non-negotiable issues are very clear and we will not back down,” he said.
On streams of political leaders from Sabah coming to pay him a visit of late, Abang Johari said there was nothing to it.
“They wanted to come and see me, I could not stop them. We just talked while we sipped coffee,” he said in jest.
Among those who had paid courtesy calls on Abang Johari were Shafie and Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) president Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili.
Ongkili had told reporters after his meeting with Abang Johari that PBS and Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) had agreed to form a working committee to review the ground status of MA63, including the historical aspects as well as the implementation and erosions of the Agreement’s contents.
He also said that the committee would be reaching out to youths in the two states through seminars and workshops.