We will conclude MA63 negotiations next year, says Sabah CM

Shafie said that the state was trying its best to negotiate with the federal government who has shown commitment to resolving the matter. — Bernama pic
Shafie said that the state was trying its best to negotiate with the federal government who has shown commitment to resolving the matter. — Bernama pic

KOTA KINABALU, Nov 19 — The state government will prioritise negotiations for Sabah’s entitlement under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 next year.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal said he was aware of dissatisfaction among Sabahans who were impatient for the state and federal governments to deliver their election promise.

“I agree there must be a timeframe. We don’t want it to go on until the next election — it’s in our manifesto. At most, we hope to resolve it by next year,” Shafie said during the question and answer section in the state assembly here today.

Shafie said that the state was trying its best to negotiate with the federal government who has shown commitment to resolving the matter.

He said there was some progress in eight out of 21 issues.

“This is complex. It involves the amendment of laws and the Constitution, but we are committed to it. I have said before, we cannot wait for too long. As seen in our Budget, Sabah’s finances are down, so, yes, there must be a timeline. We are working on it,” he said.

Shafie was responding to a supplementary question by Karanaan assemblyman Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun who asked whether the state government has established a timeline to resolve the matter.

Earlier, Shafie answered Tambunan assemblyman Datuk Seri Jeffrey Kitingan’s question on the results of the negotiations so far and what the state government has procured in lieu of the 20 per cent oil royalties as promised.

Shafie said that it had proposed in the most recent steering committee meeting that the state government be given a stake in national oil company Petronas instead of a 20 per cent royalty payment to diversify payments but this has yet to be approved.

On whether the state should take legal action against the federal government for contravening Sabah’s constitutional rights in collecting their dues, Shafie said this would be counterproductive.

“I know we can take legal action but how far can we go? Life isn’t about arguing. We waited for 55 years to get what we deserve and only in this term is the government trying seriously to resolve this. As I said, I am not complacent. I understand why people are voicing their concerns,” he said.

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