Cabinet approves 3 committees to revisit MA63, headed by Mahathir

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Liew Vui Keong.

PETALING JAYA: Putrajaya has decided to set up three special committees to look into the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), following a Cabinet meeting today.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Liew Vui Keong said the steering committee will be chaired by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, with the chief ministers from Sabah and Sarawak, the attorneys-general of both states and federal Attorney-General Tommy Thomas.

Others included in the 16-member steering committee are ministers Lim Guan Eng, Mohamed Azmin Ali, Gobind Singh Deo, Saifuddin Abdullah, Baru Bian and other MPs.

The other two committees are the technical committee and working committee.

Liew said he would be chairing the technical committee to look into every technical aspect of the agreement.

“All Sabah and Sarawak MPs would also be in this committee.

“The committee would look at the equal distribution of wealth among the peninsula, Sabah and Sarawak, and also the oil royalty, among others,” he told reporters after giving a talk on law reforms at Universiti Malaya.

He added that the steering committee would be meeting in a month from now and a report on its recommendations would be produced.

The Batu Sapi MP said that six months was adequate to settle issues relating to the oil royalty issue and development for the Bornean states.

Liew added, generally, the opinion within the committee members was to go to the core of the matter, namely the implementation of the MA63 and “not go back to the historical aspect of the matter because some of the issues are very much in dispute”.

“It will be very inclusive. It will include so many issues that are very close to the hearts and minds of every Sabahan and Sarawakian. There will be terms of reference to adhere to.”

He said the working committee will sort out the terms of reference for the consideration of the technical committee and the steering committee.

The working committee will consist of various representatives from Sabah and Sarawak, including government heads of departments for staffing and administrative work, said Liew.

“Its function is to iron out all the preliminary issues that the steering committee need not have to consider. The working committee is very important. They’ll give the input for them to consider.”

Mahathir, in his speech at the national-level 2018 Malaysia Day celebration in Kota Kinabalu last month, had given an assurance that the PH government would restore the equal partner status to Sabah and Sarawak, as enshrined in MA63, when Malaysia was formed 55 years ago.

He said restoring the status of Sabah and Sarawak, as per MA63, would help strengthen the ties between East Malaysia and West Malaysia.