KOTA KINABALU – Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) president Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan has slammed Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for saying he would support a review of the Malaysia Agreement 1963.
He said Dr Mahathir’s statement on the subject was just a ploy to gain votes for the opposition, adding that issues raised regarding state rights were forbidden from being discussed during the former prime minister’s tenure.
Pairin, who was chief minister of Sabah between 1985 and 1994, said Dr Mahathir put a stop to any talk on state rights as being “anti-federal”.
“Many Sabahans were afraid to discuss state rights openly during Dr Mahathir’s era as they could be detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA),” he said at the party’s 32nd annual congress here on Saturday (Nov 18).
“Why now has Dr Mahathir suddenly promised to review it? I believe he is not sincere about it,” Pairin said, adding that PBS believes that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will work towards resolving issues pertaining to the agreement.
In his speech, Pairin, who took leave as party president earlier this year and handed over the acting president’s post to his deputy Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili, also called for a second deputy prime minister to be appointed from Sabah and Sarawak.
He also expressed his hope that the federal government would implement the various recommendations of the Royal Commission of Inquiry on illegal immigrants as part of the comprehensive solutions on Sabah’s migrant problem.
Ongkili is expected to be endorsed as PBS president at next year’s annual general meeting during the party election.