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Monday, December 31, 2018

Sabah leader ready to give Putrajaya second chance to fix MA63

Jeffrey Kitingan says he is hoping for something positive to come out of the special Cabinet committee’s discussions on the agreement.
KOTA KINABALU: Sabah opposition leader Jeffrey Kitingan believes that Putrajaya deserves a chance to prove its sincerity in implementing the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
The Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR) president said he was hoping for something positive to come out of the special Cabinet committee’s discussions on the agreement, which among others spells out the powers given to Sabah and Sarawak under the Malaysian federation.
The committee is set to present its final report in the second quarter of next year.
“At the same time, I hope this is not just a political game on their part. They already had their first meeting, so we should give them time.
“If nothing happens, then Sabah and Sarawak should take the next step to get back their rights,” he said to FMT.
These steps, he said, included holding a referendum, not unlike the Brexit referendum in 2016 to determine the people’s preferences on the matter.
He insisted that the referendum could be done without the need for parliamentary consent as indigenous people had the right to self-determination under the United Nations.
“After all, we didn’t join Malaysia, we formed it. Singapore separated from Malaysia, we can too. One should not be scared of mentioning this because it is our right to say things under certain conditions.
“For example, when things are not working the way it should be, when our rights are not respected and the agreement is not implemented,” he said.
Referring to previous statements by MA63 activist Zainnal Ajamain who said that there had been as many as 50 breaches to the agreement since 1963, Jeffrey said under normal laws, such breaches would have already invalidated MA63.
Furthermore, he said not only was MA63 not complied with, the federal government also used various tactics to stop anybody from talking about the agreement.
This included the use of draconian laws such as the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma) and the now-abolished Internal Security Act (ISA).
Nevertheless, Jeffrey said he hoped Dr Mahathir Mohamad, in his second stint as the prime minister, would undo whatever wrong the government had done in the past, including restoring Sabah and Sarawak’s status as equal partners as promised.
“For me, it is simple. I don’t mind going back to jail for saying what needs to be said. Either they resolve or Malaysia dissolves. You fix it or we exit. You cannot pretend MA63 is not there,” he said.
Meanwhile, former Petagas assemblyman James Ligunjang, who is also the secretary of a forum to discuss Sabah’s issues and rights called MySabah, said the full implementation of the terms contained in MA63 was the key to Sabah’s progress as the agreement guaranteed Sabah would not be saddled with a shortage of funds.
He pointed out that under the agreement, and also the Federal Constitution, Sabah is entitled to 40% of net revenue derived by the federal government from Sabah, with the money meant to pay for development programmes in the state.
Unfortunately, he said, the key provision was never fully implemented, causing Sabah to lag behind in all fields of development.
He said before Malaysia was formed in 1963, Sabah and Sarawak were on par with Brunei in terms of development but now, both states had been left so far behind with abject poverty the main issue while Brunei had since become one of the richest nations in the world.
“How could this happen when Sabah and Sarawak are far richer in terms of resources compared with Brunei?
“The answer is simple, the MA63 was never sincerely implemented by Malaya which controls the federal government from the moment the agreement was inked until today,” he said.
He said the people of Sabah and Sarawak had failed to “forcefully demand” the implementation of the terms contained in MA63.
He blamed constant political rivalry among leaders in Sabah and Sarawak which had allowed political parties from the peninsula to be involved in the political process in both states.
“You can’t and will never be able to negotiate the implementation of MA63 if the political leaders and the people of Sabah and Sarawak sit behind their political leaders in parties from Malaya.
“It’s a lesson we never learn to the detriment of our future generations,” he said. -FMT

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