KOTA KINABALU: The Federal Constitution would have to be heavily amended just to fulfil all the promises made by Sabah PH in their manifesto, says Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) activist Michael Peter Goviind.
According to Goviind, the manifesto called New Deal for Sabah was superficially designed to show that the peninsular-based opposition coalition cares about Sabah’s interest but they themselves know it would be difficult to change the Constitution.
“I doubt they would even implement all the requirements and the rights as specified in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 because they know if they do, not only will Malaya become poor, they will have to borrow money from Sabah and Sarawak,” he said.
The Sabah PH manifesto promises, among others, a deputy prime minister’s post for Sabah and Sarawak, increasing the oil royalty to 20% and giving back 50% of revenue collected in Sabah.
Goviind said while the promise of the deputy prime minister post is bad enough as if Sabahans can be easily bought by promising a post, the 50% revenue showed PH’s desperation in capturing the hearts and minds of the people of Sabah and Sarawak..
“I am not saying they are dishonest. I just think they did not think things through before they made these promises.
“How can they promise the 50% revenue return when the collection is done by Malaya? How can we be assured they keep to their promise?
“It could work of course but only if all collections are done by Sabah and Sarawak and then we pay the balance to Malaya,” he said.
Nevertheless, Goviind pointed out that in the Federal Constitution, there is already a provision of 40% of total net revenue collected to be returned to Sabah.
However, he added that the funds that were due were never given to Sabah directly since 1974.
The federal government, through its ministers including those from Sabah, claimed that the state was given their 40% through the various development funds channelled to the state under various federal projects.
“So what is PH talking about with this 50%? Even 40% the government cannot give and are too afraid to even promise to give despite it being in the Constitution, and now Sabah PH thinks a PH-led federal government will do it?” he said.
Goviind estimates Sabah stands to receive at least RM50 billion a year through GST, corporate tax, income tax, custom duties and tariffs and other taxes collected by the federal government, should the payment be enforced.
He also laughed off Sabah PH’s promise that it would increase the oil royalty to 20% saying that not only is the current 5% cash payment not oil royalty, the Federal Constitution also limited the amount of royalty from oil to 10%.
“And even this is not 10% from the sale of oil and gas. It is only 10% from the export duty of oil and gas which is around RM50 million a year.
“Yes it is a small amount but let us not look at it as mere export duty. Receiving royalty means ownership of the resources and Sabah should stand to get dividends of up to RM27 billion from a RM90 billion industry as 30% dividends are normally paid to owners.
“Currently, that dividend is being paid to the Federal government as if they own our oil,” he said.
Goviind said he could go on and on about the manifesto but in a nutshell, he believes it was carelessly constructed and Sabah PH will have a lot to answer for if they continue to peddle these ideas come election time.