Review of Sabah, Sarawak Agreements unnecessary, says minister

A traditional herbal medicine seller waits for customers at Donggongon Tamu (Pasar Donggongon) in Penampang, Sabah on August 30, 2013. — Picture by Choo Choy May
A traditional herbal medicine seller waits for customers at Donggongon Tamu (Pasar Donggongon) in Penampang, Sabah on August 30, 2013. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 13 — Putrajaya has shot down a lawmaker’s call to revisit the 20- and 18-point agreements made between Sabah, Sarawak and Malaya in the formation of Malaysia.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nancy Shukri, who handles the law portfolio, said that the federal government has never neglected any state since the country’s formation in 1963.

“In light of that, the government is of the view that there is no need for a white paper on this issue,” she said in a brief written parliamentary reply to Penampang MP Darrel Leiking dated November 11.

Earlier today, Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia rejected an emergency motion tabled by Leiking, seeking the establishment of a special committee comprising experts and lawmakers to review the multi-point agreements and to enforce provisions laid out in the Malaysia Agreement.

Leiking said he could not understand the Speaker’s rationale in rejecting the motion, as he claimed the 20- and 18-point agreements, along with limited development and unequal treatment as Malaysians, have become a staple of discussions among residents in Sabah and Sarawak, be it in coffee shops or on social media.

“Despite the attendance of the MPs from Sabah and Sarawak, the Speaker of Dewan Rakyat (sic) had rejected the motion on the ground that this issue of public interest is not urgent and does not need urgent debating by the rest of the MPs,” the PKR lawmaker said in a statement issued to the media at the Parliament lobby.

Leiking said there have been numerous incidents affecting the East Malaysian states of late, from the Lahad Datu intrusion to the use of the word “Allah” and the recent Ambank murder-robbery by a security guard with a fake MyKad who claimed he was from Sabah.

By dismissing his motion as “not urgent”, Leiking said it only showed that the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition has little regard for its so-called “fixed deposit” states of Sabah and Sarawak.

“As far as I am concerned, thousands of Sabahans and Sarawakians want the issues of 20/18 Points and Malaysia Agreement 1963 be deliberated in the highest law-making body in Malaysia. These issues transcends (sic) political motivation because it will affect our children’s children in the future,” he said.

Leiking also took a swipe at Shukri over her written reply, saying that it did not seem like BN parliamentarians were keen on taking care of their own.

“The enforcement of the safeguards of Sabah and Sarawak under 20/18 Points and Malaysia Agreement 1963 should be a big concern for any MPs from Sabah and Sarawak. But the big question now is, are the BN MPs from Sabah and Sarawak willing to do so,” he said.

The 20- and 18-point agreements were written under the auspices of the Cobbold Commission in 1962, outlining safeguards to the interests, rights and autonomy of the people of Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners with Malaya and Singapore in the formation of Malaysia.

Proponents of the multi-point agreements have long argued that despite the initial deal, many of the principles were not incorporated into the federal constitution and largely ignored over the years, in favour of rapid development on the peninsula.

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