KOTA KINABALU – Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan) deputy president Darell Leiking has criticised Prime Minister Najib Razak’s alleged insincerity in giving back Sabah’s rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

Leiking was responding to Najib’s reported call to Sarawakians not to cede from Malaysia and to support Barisan Nasional (BN) if they want their MA63 rights returned to them.

In a statement today, Leiking said Najib’s new “you help me, I help you” offer on MA63 seemed to humiliate Sabahans and Sarawakians again.

“His offer treats MA63 as a mere document and not an international treaty, without which there would have been no federation of Malaysia,” said Leiking.

He also reiterated that any plan to implement and activate Sabah’s special rights and privileges should not be made out of political expediency.

Instead, it must be based on the principle of respect and understanding on what had been intended during the formative years of the federation.

“Irrespective of who controls the federal government, the implementation or activation of these special rights and privileges, more particularly as described in Article 8 of MA63, must be free from any political duress or pressures.

“Hence, it will be a total disrespect of MA63 by the Umno-led federal government if they say that implementation and activation will only take place if Sabahans vote and return BN to power this coming election.”

Leiking, who is also Penampang MP, said many right-thinking Sabahans are furious with the comment made by Najib to Sarawakians that the return of the state’s rights is conditional upon BN being returned to power.

“I believe Sabahans can now see the insincerity on the part of Najib when he used Sarawak’s rights as a means to secure votes from Sarawakians as well as the games played by his deputy (Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and his Parliament speaker (Pandikar Amin Mulia),” he said.

“The implementation and activation of MA63 can be done immediately by Najib without waiting for another election to come as Umno/BN is currently in control of both the federal and state governments and Article 8 of MA63 clearly spells out how it can be done.”

All the terms and provisions in MA63, according to the opposition party leader, reflected the safeguards held in place by Sabah so that the state remains privileged in the federation.

“So, why do the implementation and activation of these rights come with a condition that BN be returned to power? This is absurd and an insult to us all,” stressed Leiking.

He said he believed the way forward for Sabah and Sarawak to navigate through the federation of Malaysia is the creation of a Borneo bloc that will pave the way for the actual implementation or activation of MA63.

“Sabah cannot do it alone and just last week, Najib and Zahid had issued their warning to Sarawakians,” he said.

“I reckon that whatever promises or pledges coming from Najib or any of the top Umno leaders on MA63 may not materialise because they will always have to prioritise their Malay-based voters in Malaya before Sabahans and Sarawakians.”

Whether Sabahans realise it or not, Leiking said, the implementation and activation of MA63 will definitely propel Sabah into a privileged category within the federation of Malaysia and this is something that Umno wants to prevent, more so when most Umno members actually come from Sabah.

“In addition, could what Najib have offered to Sarawakians be a sign that Parliament will be dissolved before the Sabah state seats?

“I suspect it could be as the new delineation, which was gazetted in the state constitution on Aug 18, 2016, has not been tabled in Parliament despite three sittings.

“Najib will likely say that Sabah can decide to dissolve after the 14th general election and this is something for Sabahans to ponder.”

Najib had assured Sarawakians that he had no problems with them demanding the state’s rights to be returned provided they do not cross the “red line”.

“Firstly, there should be no no calls for secession and the second red line is that they must support BN,” he was reported as saying while closing the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) triennial delegates convention in Kuching.

“If you support BN, why shouldn’t I give back those rights which have been knowingly or unknowingly taken from Sarawak?”

Najib had said that the rights accorded to Sabah and Sarawak under the MA63 will be restored.

“If there are any violations, we will restore it back to the people of Sabah,” Najib, who is also Umno president, had said while addressing Sabah Umno delegates in his winding-up speech on the last day of the party’s general assembly on Dec 9.