SIBU, Sept 19 – The Consultative Committee on Malaysia Agreement (MA63) helmed by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg of the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government have negotiated the return of the state’s autonomy, conducted detailed studies and negotiated the terms of the Agreement since it was established on Nov 6, 2018.
This is according to Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) president Datuk Sri Tiong King Sing who affirmed the GPS government’s commitment to MA63 which he contrasted with the negotiation process during the time when the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government’s version of the proposed amendment to the Constitution only caused more division and great opposition.
“It is thus extremely unfair and false to say that the Sarawak government is not committed to pursuing the implementation of MA63 and I absolutely cannot agree with such an inaccurate statement,’ he said in a media statement.
He made reference to PH’s proposed amendment to the Federal Constitution in April 2019.
“At that time, the proposed amendment by the PH government was strongly opposed by GPS during the first reading as we demanded that the proposed amendment to the entire agreement be fully re-addressed to reflect the status of Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners to the Federation,” he said.
The Bintulu MP said Sarawak will not forget that PH’s proposed amendments had left out words crucial to the provisions in the MA63 during the first reading, which PH of course denied.
“The bill to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution put forth by PH at the time did not reflect the spirit of the MA63 agreement and GPS wanted it to properly reflect the provisions in the agreement during the second reading.
However, this demand was twisted by PH to make it seem as though GPS did not support the proposed amendments.
Furthermore, he said PH had the gall to claim credit for the botched bill and chose to publicise the non-achievement in the MoU on Transformation and Political Stability that was signed in the Parliament Building on Sep 13, 2021.
“If the PH’s flawed proposed amendments had been passed two years ago, our people would have been relegated to second-class citizens of a State that should have been an equal partner to the federation,” he said.
Tiong said it should also be remembered that once the Sarawak Consultative Committee on MA63 was formed, the Covid-19 pandemic soon engulfed the world and the country.
By necessity, the Federal Government was immediately forced to devote its attention to fight the pandemic as a top priority.
Similarly, he said Sarawak Chief Minister and the state government also took on the task to save lives.
At the moment, even though discussions related to MA63 have been delayed, it does not mean in any way that it has been abandoned, he stressed.
With the pandemic now gradually entering the endemic stage, he continued, the MA63 Consultative Committee will continue its mission to negotiate with the federal authorities on the rights and status of Sarawak and pursue practical and long-term development plans.
“After all, according to MA63, Sarawak’s status is a unique one, as it comes as an equal partner in the formation of Malaysia.”
Adding on, Tiong said he personally believes that the Federal Government should not involve the steering committee in the negotiations of MA63 to avoid overlapping discussions and confusion.
He said it must be the existing MA63 Consultative Committee headed by Sarawak Chief Minister to continue the negotiations of the Agreement.
He said if the Federal Government is truly committed to the well-being of Sarawakians, then it should not allow the new committee to disrupt the situation and jeopardize the restoration of Sarawak’s rights.’
“I call on the Federal Government to fulfill its commitments and focus on the MA63 issue seriously. I also hope that the MA63 Consultative Committee led by the Sarawak Chief Minister can expedite the negotiations so that Sarawak may regain the autonomy that we deserve and move on with more space and ability to improve the people’s quality of life and restore the rights that originally belong to us,” Ting asserted. — Borneo Post