KOTA KINABALU: Sabah political activist Arthur Sen has criticised the explanation by PPBM’s Rais Hussin, who chaired Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) manifesto committee, that the promises made were based on data which later turned out to be inaccurate.
Sen, who is the former Upko Youth chief, said while this might be true, no data was necessary to begin implementing the rights guaranteed under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
The PH-led federal government previously announced the establishment of a special Cabinet committee to implement MA63. However, it has yet to name any committee members other than the chairman, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Liew Vui Keong.
Sen said of all the election pledges made by PH, this was the most important for Sabah and Sarawak and the reason many voters in East Malaysia had supported PH in the May 9 polls.
“The committee that has been announced but not yet formed does not need a long time to discuss anything because any form of negotiation was already completed in 1962 and 1963.
“It only needs to discuss which (rights) should be implemented first and how quickly,” he said.
In fact, Sen said, there was no need for a committee at all to restore one of the most important rights of Sabah and Sarawak by reinstating them as equal partners in the Federation of Malaysia.
He said Article 1 (2) of the Federal Constitution could be amended by Parliament without the intervention or recommendations of a committee as it covered one of the most basic rights of the two Bornean states.
It also put Sabah and Sarawak at the same level as the 11 states in the Federation of Malaya, he said.
“Checking Article 160, we find the word ‘federation’ to mean the federation established by the Federation of Malaya Agreement 1957.
“Sabah and Sarawak never signed this agreement, and they have never been a part of Malaya. Don’t any of the leaders in Malaya understand their own constitution?”
He added that reinstating the article would enable Sabah and Sarawak to regain the powers that had been eroded over the years, as before the 1976 amendment, they fell under a different category from the peninsular states.
“Back then, it said the states of Malaysia shall be (a) the states of the Federation of Malaya, (b) Sabah and Sarawak, and (c) Singapore. Now, there is only one category,” he said.
He voiced disappointment that no mention of the issue had been made even after the Parliament sittings.
He also called for no further delays in the matter of returning to Sabah 40% of the net revenue collected by the federal government in the state.
“Again, this was discussed and agreed on before the formation of the Federation of Malaysia, and it is in the Federal Constitution. If the committee wants to discuss this, it only needs to identify and calculate how much is owed to Sabah.
“The question of whether the federal government has the money or not does not arise because obviously, the money has already been collected. It is there. They only need to set aside 40% to give back to Sabah.
“The calculation goes like this: you collect RM1 billion from Sabah, you give us RM400 million and you pocket RM600 million. The money that you keep would go towards diplomacy and security on behalf of Sabah as well as other critical maintenance needs.”