KOTA KINABALU, Sept 27 — Ministers from Sabah and Sarawak are optimistic about the assurance made by the federal government in the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) to resolve outstanding issues and claims stipulated under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Sabah and Sarawak Affairs) Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili said the assurance showed the federal government means business in resolving the perennial problems on development and basic needs faced by Sabah and Sarawak.
“The development funds dedicated for less developed states, especially Sabah and Sarawak, are refreshing. Never before in previous Malaysia Plans have (they) given such focus to Sabah and Sarawak, MA63.
“Development issues of MA63 are among the focus in PM’s speech, and he did say he will personally be involved in monitoring implementation plans on Sabah and Sarawak,” said the Parti Bersatu Sabah president in a statement here today.
Ongkili noted that the Sabah and Sarawak Affairs Division (BHESS) will soon set up a joint monitoring unit with the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) to ensure infrastructure implementation plans are implemented, in accordance with MA63 development goals.
When tabling the 12MP in Parliament today, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the socioeconomic development of Sabah and Sarawak will continue to be given priority under the five-year plan in line with the federal government’s commitment to solving issues relating to the demands of the two states over the MA63.
Meanwhile, sharing Maximus’s view, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said he was confident that the government under Ismail Sabri’s leadership would be committed to the development of these two states, which is one of the priority areas under the 12MP.
“As a Sarawakian-born federal minister, I am indeed hopeful that under 12MP, more development and progress will take place in Sabah and Sarawak so that we will be able to enjoy the same facilities and infrastructure as the people in Peninsular Malaysia,” he said in a statement.
He also hoped that the rights of the people in Sarawak and Sabah as stated in the MA63 would be reclaimed within the 12MP period, as the people in the two states were hopeful of enjoying a development level similar to that in Peninsular Malaysia.
“Sarawak and Sabah had agreed to be part of Malaysia in 1963 because they (the people) were impressed by the system and well-planned development in Peninsular Malaysia,” he said.
He said the ‘unspoken promise’ to the people in Sarawak and Sabah was that they too could enjoy a similar development status after the federation of Malaysia was formed.
In the quest to make Malaysia a developed nation, Wan Junaidi hoped that more attention would be given to sustainable development, where more focus can be given towards conserving the environment, protecting wildlife, and environmentally friendly mining activities.
In the spirit of ‘Keluarga Malaysia’, he also reminded the government to not lose sight of the people’s happiness level and to ensure everyone will be able to enjoy the benefit of the country’s economic growth.
“Malaysia is a developing country and most Malaysians are living in urban areas. As such, it is time for us to also look into issues concerning urban poverty namely affordable housing, improve social safety, and a more effective poverty eradication programme,” he added.
Meanwhile, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Alexander Nanta Linggi said bureaucratic red tape should be cut and the ‘Little Napoleon’ phenomenon avoided so that all development agenda under the 12MP including for Sabah and Sarawak could be fully realised.
Nanta said it was vital to ensure that the 12MP could enhance the country’s development and prosper the people in an equitable manner.
“Cooperation between the federal and state governments is important to ensure all projects could proceed smoothly, and that is why we want political stability,” he added. — Bernama