Ongkili slams Anifah over ‘no support on MA63’ claim

PBS deputy president Maximus Ongkili says the party has been consistent in its stand on MA63. (Bernama pic)

KOTA KINABALU: PBS deputy president Maximus Ongkili is upset over the claims by former foreign minister Anifah Aman that the latter had zero backing from Sabah ministers to fight for the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) when they were in the Barisan Nasional government.

Ongkili, who was federal minister for energy in the previous federal government, said the Kimanis MP’s statement was “inaccurate and misleading”.

He said all former Sabah and Sarawak leaders were on the same page, as far as upholding the MA63.

He said all Cabinet ministers from East Malaysia were, in fact, made members of the Cabinet Technical Committee on Devolution of Power and MA63 for Sabah and Sarawak, chaired jointly by Anifah and former minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nancy Shukri.

“Not a single minister disagreed or failed to support the two states’ demands for autonomy and devolution of powers, consistent with the provisions and charter of MA63,” he said here today.

“To my knowledge, all ministers defended the MA63 and most Barisan Nasional member parties, including Parti Bersatu Sabah, tabled or submitted memorandums on matters to be addressed to the committee through the attorney-general, who acted as secretary to the committee,” said Ongkili, who is Kota Marudu MP.

Anifah, who quit Umno last month, had claimed that none of the federal ministers from Sabah in the previous government were willing to fight for the MA63.

Prior to the 2013 election, he said he had discussed the MA63 and other Sabah rights which he thought should be fought for with other ministers from the state.

“Unfortunately, not even one minister wanted to join me. When I was appointed as the foreign minister, I got to spend more time with the then prime minister Najib Razak.

“I used those opportunities to tell him about our rights under MA63. I then brought the issue up again with other Sabah federal ministers but still, none of them wanted to join me,” he said.

Ongkili said no other party had been more persistent and consistent than PBS in speaking out and defending Sabah’s rights, adding that these issues were the foundations of the party’s struggle and constitution since its formation in 1985.

“One can check the annual PBS Congress speeches of president Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan of the past 32 years. Not a single speech failed to address Sabah’s rights in the federation. There are, of course, many newcomers to the field, which we welcome.

“Where we disagreed with Anifah was on the approach taken to come up with proposals and recommendations for actions by the federal government.

“Anifah chose to work with the opposition parties and other non-governmental organisations in Sabah. We, in PBS, took the view that since we were the government, it’s best that the government parties, assisted by concerned public interest groups, do the job of submission,” he said.

Ongkili further added that PBS set up three high-level committees comprising of senior party leaders, ex-civil servants and practising professionals.

The committees were focused on MA63 safeguards, namely the High Court of Borneo, Borneonisastion and education.

“The recommendations for action were submitted to Najib, former chief minister Tan Sri Musa Aman, former special tasks minister Teo Chee Kang, as chairman of the state committee on devolution of power, Anifah, Nancy and the federal AG,” he said.

“Although the list of demands for devolution and autonomy is still long, a lot of positive action in devolution matters have been carried out by the last federal government. It is hoped these decisions will not be reversed or abandoned by the present Pakatan Harapan-led government,” he added.