KOTA KINABALU, Oct 19 — The Special Council on Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MKMA63) has agreed to proposed amendments to the Federal Constitution that would essentially put Sabah and Sarawak on “equal status” footing as West Malaysia in the Federation.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department for Sabah and Sarawak Affairs Datuk Seri Maximus Ongkili said the decision to amend Article 1 (2) and Article 160(2) of the Constitution was made during the nearly three-hour MKMA63 meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob yesterday.

“The amendments would redefine the meaning of Federation,” he said, adding that the amendment is expected to be tabled during the next Parliament sitting.

The proposal was tabled by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Parliament) Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, who also heads the MKMA63’s Equal Status Working Committee.

According to Ongkili, the current proposed amendment is very different from the one proposed by the Pakatan Harapan government in 2018.

“The amendment would define the status of all states in Malaysia in line with the Federation of Malaya Agreement 1957, MA63 and the position following Singapore’s exit in 1965,” he quoted Wan Junaidi as saying in a statement today.

Ongkili also said the MKMA63 also agreed on empowering both the Sabah and Sarawak governments to issue licences for deep-sea fishing,

During the meeting, Minister of Agriculture and Food Industries Datuk Seri Ronald Kiandee tabled a paper to seek approval from the MKMA63 to empower the Fisheries Department in Sabah to issue licences for vessels and fishing equipment for Zon C fishing spots, which is currently handled by the department on the federal level.

“Initially, the request was put up by the Sabah government, but the Council (MKMA63) has approved the request and to be extended to Sarawak as well,” said Ongkili.

He also said that they will continue to look at outstanding issues related to the rights of the Bornean states.