Sarawak CM calls MA63 debate offer ‘stupid’, gets rebuked by Pandikar


PETALING JAYA: Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg’s sharp dismissal of a call by Pandikar Amin Mulia for a debate over the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) issue as being “paloi” (stupid) has not got down well with the Dewan Rakyat speaker.

In a statement, Pandikar said he was disappointed that there were leaders who considered themselves so elitist that they could not debate with “budak-budak paloi” (stupid juveniles).

“The kids who are deemed to be so stupid are in reality held in high esteem by those who are more powerful than the person who considers himself to be elite,” he said.

“I want to ask this elite leader. Is the individual who entrusts this stupid person also being stupid?” he added.

Johari, who is Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) president, was reported as saying at the party’s Kuching zone meeting today that there was no need to hold the debate as it was not the right channel for Sarawak to be granted greater autonomy rights.

“I am not weak but the (challenge for a) debate is ‘paloi’,” he said, uttering the term used in Borneo.

“Our way of doing things is to negotiate properly with the federal government. We do it step by step and follow the state and federal constitutions,” he added.

The controversy over the matter was sparked when Pandikar, a native of Sabah, had said on Nov 27 that there was no reason to claim Sabah and Sarawak had equal status with Malaya.

Instead, he said, all states were equal in Malaysia.

He also said he would gladly debate the issue outside of Parliament.

He blamed “irresponsible voices out there” for saying that the rights of Sabahans and Sarawakians had been taken away.

Johari later said he begged to differ, stressing that the MA63 was a very important document as it was the basis of the territorial rights of Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia.

To this, Pandikar said on Thursday that it did not matter if Johari did not agree with him.

Asked if he was willing to debate Johari on the matter, Pandikar had said: “Oh yes. If he wants to debate with me I will welcome it.”

Yesterday, Sarawak Barisan Nasional Youth chief Fadillah Yusof criticised Pandikar, telling him not to “teach” Sarawakians about the state’s standing in Malaysia and the importance of MA63.

He said Pandikar had the right to air his personal views but did not need to challenge Johari to a debate on the matter.

Fadillah, who is also works minister and youth chief of PBB, said Pandikar was also not the individual mandated by Prime Minister Najib Razak to look into Sarawak’s claims under MA63.