Deputy minister dismisses need to rebrand Sabah, Sarawak as ‘mainland Malaysia’

Hanifah said the government is of the view that the existing term of East Malaysia as provided by law is adequate. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Hanifah said the government is of the view that the existing term of East Malaysia as provided by law is adequate. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

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KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 1 — Putrajaya has no plans to rebrand the Sabah and Sarawak regions as “mainland Malaysia”, the Dewan Rakyat was told today.

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Sabah and Sarawak Affairs) Datuk Hanifah Hajar Taib said the current terms used to address the two Borneo states was sufficient. 

“For Tuaran’s information, based on the legal review made by the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC), it was found that the term ‘mainland Malaysia’ has never been used in the Federal Constitution and existing laws,” Hanifah told Tuaran MP Datuk Seri Madius Tangau during Question Time.

The Tuaran MP pointed out that the two states alone constitute 60 per cent of Malaysia’s overall territory and asked if the government would rename it as the mainland. 

Sabah and Sarawak combined measure 198,354 square km compared to peninsular Malaysia which measures 132,265 sq km

But Halimah explained that the terms “East Malaysia” and “peninsular Malaysia”, have been gazetted under Section 3 of the Interpretation Acts 1948 and 1967 as well as Act 388.

“For example, among the existing laws that use the terms East Malaysia and Peninsular Malaysia are Section 63, Section 64 and Section 72, Immigration Act 1959/63 (Act 155) and the Insurance (Exemption) Order (No.2) 2012.

“Apart from the states, the Federation of Malaysia also has ‘Federal Territory’ which refers to the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur established under the Constitution (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1973 (Act A206), the Federal Territory of Labuan established under the Constitution Act ( Amendment) (No. 2) 1984 [Act A585] and the Federal Territory of Putrajaya established under the Constitution (Amendment) Act 2001 (Act A1095), she said, adding that all such Federal Territories shall be referred to as such.

“Therefore, the government is of the view that the existing terms in the law as described are adequate. Furthermore, the proposed amendment to Article 1 (2) as provided in the Federal Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2021 if approved, will reallocate the term ‘Borneo states’ which refers to Sabah and Sarawak,” she said.

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