KUCHING — The Sarawak government wants Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to lead a federal task force to negotiate matters relating to the state’s special rights and constitutional safeguards.
“The other side should be headed by the deputy prime minister or a very senior minister who has the authority,” Sarawak chief minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg told reporters today after the state assembly adjourned its eight-day session.
He said the state government had initially considered Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri and Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, both of whom co-chair the technical committee on the devolution of power to Sarawak and Sabah.
But Abang Johari’s administration then decided the two were “not high ranking enough”.
“Nancy and Anifah cannot (to co-chair the federal task force) as they are not senior enough,” he said.
Abang Johari said the Sarawak side of the task force would be headed by Deputy Chief Minister (1) Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah with the other two deputy chief ministers Tan Sri Dr James Masing and Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan as among the members.
He said once the state and federal task forces have made recommendations he would talk to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to decide on the matter.
On November 9, the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly unanimously adopted a motion mandating the state government to form a high level special task force to negotiate with Putrajaya on all matters related to the state’s special rights and constitutional safeguards.
The special rights and safeguards, accorded to Sarawak in accordance with the terms, intent and spirit of the Malaysia Agreement 1963, include the territorial sea, oil mining rights and special financial grants accorded to Sarawak under the Federal Constitution.
Uggah, who tabled the ministerial motion, had said the state government proposed that a high level special task force be established to conclude the negotiations with the federal government and have these issues resolved.
He had said the state government wanted the federal government to establish a corresponding task force so as to facilitate the resolution of these issues amicably and in the national interests with the state’s interests and rights properly safeguarded and entrenched.
THE MALAY MAIL