KOTA KINABALU – Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Raymond Tan yesterday expressed his disbelief towards former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamed’s comment of reviewing Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and renegotiate with Sarawak and Sabah a deal that was fair to all parties.
“It is unbelievable when Mahathir says there are many things that we can do by revising the original agreement between Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia. First, he has got it wrong that MA63, which was signed on July 9, 1963, was only a tripartite agreement and an ordinary one that we can simply make changes,” he said.
“Perhaps he has not even sighted or read the agreement,” Raymond chided.
He said MA63 had provided the legal foundation that created Malaysia as a nation and attached in its Annexures were the constitutions of Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak.
“MA63 cannot be simply re-written or replaced. It is a lie to say that there are many things we can do by revising MA63 and he gets dangerously close to not recognising the formation of Malaysia and also in total disregard of the history of the nation,” said Raymond.
He said Mahathir was not aware that there was an Inter-Government Committee in 1962 with the British, Malayan, North Borneo (Sabah) and Sarawak governments to work out the future constitutional arrangements, including safeguards for the special interests of Sabah and Sarawak to cover all matters such as religious freedom, education, representation in the federal parliament, the position of the indigenous races, control of immigration, citizenship and the state constitutions.
The report of the committee was signed on February 27, 1963.
Chapter 3 and Annexes A and B of the report sets out the legislative lists of powers, administrative arrangements and assurances for Sabah and Sarawak, said Raymond.
“It is important to note that these special rights are valid and enforceable even if they are not expressly provided for under the Constitution,” he said.
He said there was so much more interest and awareness among many political leaders in Sabah on the special rights of Sabah.
“Most of us do not ask for anything more but we want to protect our special rights. Nobody in Sabah, in his right mind, would be interested to renegotiate a new deal with Mahathir or Pakatan Harapan,” he said.
He added that there was one clear case of Mahathir as Prime Minister in 1983 where he revoked a legislative right of Sabah provided under MA63 but not Sarawak.
“He did so without going to parliament and only used Article 95C of the Federal Constitution,” he said.
He added that this was with regard to the state’s legislative right on electricity; gas and gas works; and other works for the production and distribution of power and energy.
“Action is taken now to correct this abuse he committed as head of the federal government,” said Raymond.
He said as far as Sabah was concerned, the state has to protect her special positions together with Sarawak in the Federation of Malaysia because the state has special rights.
“In this respect, we are more superior than Selangor, Pulau Pinang and Kelantan under Pakatan Harapan governments. It does not matter if you put us last in the list of names for the states in Malaysia, arranged in alphabetical order in the Federal Constitution in 1976, so long as we have special rights,” he said.
Raymond said it was Pakatan Harapan’s propaganda ingenuity to say Sabah and Sarawak had been downgraded because the two states were not at the top of the list of names for the states in Malaysia.
“Is Pakatan Harapan making this excuse as a reason to remove the special rights of Sabah and Sarawak, so as Mahathir says, fair to all the regions of Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia?”
He reminded that in 1996, Mahathir in his campaign for national integration, proposed to Sabah and Sarawak to surrender their immigration rights so that Malaysians from Peninsula could enter the states without passports and no Malaysians from Peninsula could be barred from entering the states.
“Fortunately, the state leaderships maintained our special rights. I believe Mahathir and the Pakatan Harapan leaders still have plans to remove our immigration rights. There are so many complaints from their leaders,” he said.
Regarding Lim Kit Siang’s call on Sarawak and Sabah to give Pakatan Harapan two-thirds majority in parliament, Raymond said it was clear that the new deal was with the condition that Pakatan Harapan had to win 40 parliamentary seats in Sabah and Sarawak.
“The priority is Pakatan Harapan getting to Putrajaya and clearly the party has no interest in the states at all,” said Raymond.
He reminded that Kit Siang had never mentioned about special rights of Sabah and Sarawak under MA63 and the Federal Constitution, so no details were given by Kit Siang as to what review Pakatan Harapan was going to do anyway.
At the same time, Raymond also mentioned that it was hard to find any laws or policies that were passed by parliament only after consultation with the states when Mahathir was Prime Minister.
Raymond said Mahathir never did so because he had never acknowledged the special positions of Sabah and Sarawak before.