MA63: It will take time to fulfil Sabah’s rights, says Shafie

KOTA KINABALU: Chief Minister Shafie Apdal says it will take some time before Sabah’s rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) can be fulfilled.

He said certain matters need to be sorted out with the central government, such as conflicting powers belonging to state and federal authorities.

“What’s important is for us to ensure there is no overlapping of powers, especially in the delivery of people’s needs,” he said when replying to Kuala Penyu assemblyman Limus Jury during the question-and-answer session at the state assembly sitting today.

He said overlapping of powers had affected the delivery of infrastructure projects by the Public Works Department (PWD), resulting in unbalanced outcomes.

“Take the 130 schools that need upgrading. About 30 schools under the federal government are delayed or abandoned while those undertaken by the state PWD have been carried out smoothly,” Shafie said.

Many of Sabah’s rights and executive powers, such as those covering education and health, have been diluted over the past 50 years, he added.

“That is why we need to properly analyse and look into these matters before these powers can be returned to Sabah.

“As the chief minister, I will try my best to ensure we get back our rights under the MA63,” he said.

Shafie maintained Sabah should get its 20% oil royalty, contending that Sabah and Sarawak are territories, not just mere states.

Sabah will benefit as a whole from the 20% oil royalty if it is returned to the state, Shafie said, adding corporate social responsibility programmes by Petronas alone are not sufficient as they only benefit certain targeted groups.

“We need money to develop Sabah, which has been neglected for so long,” he said, adding matters pertaining to land and marine catch should be under the jurisdiction of the state and the federal government has no right to interfere.

At this point, Sabah Umno’s Karanaan rep Masidi Manjun said land matters were solely the right of the state and there was no need for Sabah to pay taxes from Sipadan Island’s income to the central government, as it is now.

Shafie said he would take note of this and also welcomed other constructive criticisms or ideas involving MA63 for the state to compile and present to the special steering committee set up by the federal government to study MA63.

He said the government will also reach out to the state’s think-tank, Institute for Development Studies (IDS), to provide input on the matter, adding they have been given six months to look into the various issues.

46 govt agencies headed by Sabahans

Meanwhile, Shafie said the state government will look at increasing the number of Sabahans working in the public service in Sabah, especially in senior positions.

Out of the 139 federal agencies and government-linked companies in Sabah, he said only 46 are headed by Sabahans while the rest are by non-Sabahans.

“Out of the 79,510 federal staff, a total of 22,021 are non-Sabahans.

“The state government remains committed to ensuring all that is stipulated under the MA63 are realised,” he said.

On allocations by the federal government, Shafie said it was not the amount that was critical but rather whether the funds were enough to implement projects that were of priority.

“There is no use being given hundreds of billions of ringgit if all the projects are not executed properly.

“This is why we want all the federal projects to have the consent of the state government first before they are implemented.

“All projects must be carried out based on the needs of the Sabahan people.

“We don’t want to hear any more about projects implemented that will only enrich politicians and private firms,” he said.