Mahathir chairs first steering committee meeting on MA63

Members of the special Cabinet committee to review the Malaysia Agreement 1963 pose for a group photo in Putrajaya today.

PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad today chaired the first steering committee meeting to review the Malaysia Agreement 1963 as part of the federal government’s efforts to restore Sabah and Sarawak’s status as equal partners in Malaysia.

The committee will meet once every two months and was given six months from today to submit its final report.

Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal and Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg were among those present.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Liew Vui Keong said the committee approved a motion to appoint additional members from Sabah and Sarawak to the steering committee, namely Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Wilfred Madius Tangau, Deputy Speaker of the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly Gerawat Gala, Sarawak Assistant Minister of Law, State-Federal Relations and Project Monitoring Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman, Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Chong Chieng Jen and former Sabah state attorney-general Stephen Foo.

Liew presented the proposals while the committee also received briefings from both the chief ministers of Sabah and Sarawak.

The presentation included a proposal to restore the autonomy rights of the Sabah and Sarawak governments in matters such as finance; oil exploration, mining and gas; legislation; land and revenue from land; maritime, estuarine fishing and fisheries; labour; and state public services.

In addition, the committee also discussed amendments to Article 1 (2) of the Federal Constitution to restore to the clauses before 1976.

The committee will make recommendations to the government with respect to the implementation of the rights and autonomy of Sabah and Sarawak.

This is in line with the provisions contained in the Federal Constitution, the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and the matters contained in “Chapter 3, Annexes A and B of the Inter-Governmental Committee Report 1962”.

Previously, the Legal Affairs Division in the Prime Minister’s Department had organised a series of co-ordination meetings with the Sabah and Sarawak governments, the Attorney-General’s Chambers, the ministry of finance, the ministry of economic affairs and the Public Service Department.

The meetings were to obtain initial agreement on the list of issues and claims to be sought by the Sabah and Sarawak governments in relation to the Malaysia Agreement 1963.

Other than Liew, the other federal Cabinet ministers who attended were Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali, Works Minister Baru Bian, Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah, Transport Minister Loke Siew Fook, Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo and International Trade and Industry Minister Darell Leiking.

Attorney-General Tommy Thomas, Sabah and Sarawak Chief Judge David Wong, Sabah State Attorney-General Zaleha Rose Pandin and her counterpart from Sarawak Talat Mahmood Abdul Rashid as well as constitutional expert Professor Shad Saleem Faruqi also attended the meeting.