MELAKA, Sept 16 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob today reiterated the assurance that the rights of Sabah and Sarawak as enshrined in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 will always be protected.

Ismail Sabri, who is also the Chairman of the Special Council on MA63, said the council not only played a role in unravelling some pending issues regarding the rights and status of Sabah and Sarawak, but also emphasised efforts to develop the two states.

“At the Malaysia Day celebration last year, the federal government has given assurance to pay close attention to issues related to the interests of Sabah and Sarawak.

“Just like a Malay idiom ‘bersukat sama paras, bertimbang sama berat,’ (given equal standing, as well as entitled to equitable sharing), the government wants to see Sabah and Sarawak enjoy rapid development just like other states in the peninsula.

“The government is also committed to eliminating the development gap and this was proven by the allocation of RM5.6 billion given to Sabah and RM4 billion to Sarawak this year to carry out development projects such as to provide water supply, electricity, roads, as well as health and education infrastructures,” he said at the national-level Malaysia Day celebration at the Independence Declaration Memorial Square in Banda Hilir here tonight.

The prime minister said the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2021 relating to the MA63 which was passed with a two-thirds majority voice in Parliament on December 14 last year, was also proof of the government’s seriousness to strengthen the status of Sabah and Sarawak in the Federation of Malaysia.

He said that was also in line with the government’s transformation agenda to restore the confidence of the public, as well as that of foreign investors, in the government’s capability to ensure political stability and national policies towards sustainable socioeconomic development.

In his speech, Ismail Sabri also reiterated the history of the formation of Malaysia which was first mooted by Malaysia’s first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj at the Conference of Foreign Correspondents Association of South-east Asia in Singapore on May 27, 1961.

Acknowledging the difficult process to form Malaysia, he said all the challenges proved that there were no shortcuts in creating a nation-state based on parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy because it required a high-level understanding and patience.

“History proves that it was not easy to form Malaysia, to build understanding and reach a consensus among the Malay states, Sabah and Sarawak, as well as Singapore.

“The resistance that was present at that time was both internal and external, including communist insurgency, the confrontation against the formation of Malaysia, economic challenges, as well as religious, racial, cultural and linguistic conflicts.

“Nevertheless, we made it through, thanks to the determination and wisdom of our previous leaders,” he said.

The prime minister said Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Mohammad Fuad Stephens, Tun Datu Mustapha Datu Harun, Tun Abang Haji Openg Abang Sapiee, Tun Jugah Anak Barieng and Tan Sri Abang Abu Bakar Abang Mustapha were among those who had brought success to the negotiation of the formation of Malaysia and the prosperity enjoyed by the people today.

“As a multiracial and multi-religious country, Malaysia Day must always be a celebration that reminds the entire Malaysian Family of the importance of consensus and social cohesion based on national integration.

“The sacred date of September 16 must be taken as a starting point to enhance our spirit and determination in finding our similarities. We are living in the same country, under the same sky, hence our loyalty should always be to the King and Country,” he added. — Bernama