KOTA KINABALU: Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, who is running for Umno president, has promised to look into how the rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) could be restored if he wins the party election.
Speaking to about 800 Sabah Umno delegates, who attended a gathering with the Umno president candidate, Tengku Razaleigh said one of the first things he intended to do if elected president was to speak to Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad on how the MA63 could be fully implemented.
“If we need to amend the Federal Constitution, then we will do so just as long as we can implement what has been agreed upon in MA63.”
Tengku Razaleigh, who is popularly known as Ku Li, said he was willing to go the distance so that the people in Sabah and Sarawak would be satisfied to see that what they have been hoping for becomes a reality.
As to the question of Sarawak parties leaving Barisan Nasional (BN) to form Gabungan Parti Sarawak, Ku Li said there was still room for discussion with the parties in the East Malaysian state and he was confident he would be able to convince them to work together with BN or Umno again.
“What we need is that the people in both Sabah and Sarawak can be proud of their citizenship. There is no problem in being proud of being Sabahan or Sarawakian, but we need unity, at least for the sake of security,” he said.
As for Sabah, he believed that while it was the right of BN component parties to leave the coalition and form Gabungan Bersatu, he warned the local party leaders to think carefully about their decisions.
Being part of a small coalition could lead to heartache in the end, he said.
“They will be swallowed up by other stronger coalitions if they are not strong enough. They should tread carefully,” he said.
On May 14, Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) president Joseph Pairin Kitingan announced the party’s departure from BN and the formation of Gabungan Bersatu together with Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR).
He also announced that Sabah Umno leaders, led by former Sabah Umno chief Musa Aman, had agreed to leave the Malaya-based party and join PBS en-masse.
This, however, has not materialised as Musa has since left Sabah for London as he continues to seek medical attention for an unknown illness.
Speaking of his plans for Sabah Umno, Ku Li said at the moment, the party’s constitution will remain as it is, namely a party for Malay Muslims.
However, he contended that if there was a need to change the constitution, it would need the consensus of the Supreme Council members and the grassroots leaders as a whole.
He also dismissed allegations that some Umno central leaders are looking at Sabah Umno as a liability, saying that the most important thing for the party is to reform and change the leaders with those the people are more comfortable with.
“They are happy with the party. But not so much with the character and behaviour of some leaders. It is a question of credibility and integrity,” he said.
According to some Sabah Umno leaders, Umno is concerned that its divisions in Sabah are accepting individuals who are both non-Muslims and non-Malays as members. They said this was diluting the core struggle of the party.
Therefore, this sentiment has led the Sabah Umno leaders to find another platform to satisfy their members with a political vehicle they are more comfortable with, namely Gabungan Bersatu.
The coalition has agreed to continue working together with Umno but will be a local-based coalition.
Parochial sentiments in both Sabah and Sarawak have grown over the years and local parties such as Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) in Sarawak and Parti Warisan Sabah, that harped on state rights, especially MA63, in their election campaigns received overwhelming support from voters.