Former BN blocs in Sabah, Sarawak joining hands is good for MA63, says ex-minister

Sarawak leaders during the launch of Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) in Kuching on Jan 19, 2019. (Bernama pic)

KUCHING: A Sarawak lawmaker has welcomed a potential collaboration between Sabah opposition bloc Gabungan Bersatu Sabah (GBS) and Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), the ruling coalition formed to replace the state Barisan Nasional (BN) in the aftermath of the general election last year.

Former minister Nancy Shukri said it was a positive move by both blocs whose members were once part of the BN coalition.

But the Batang Sadong MP said she was unaware of any meeting planned between leaders of the two coalitions.

“Sarawak and Sabah are the two parties which have signed the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) along with Singapore and the Federated Malay states.

“Both Sarawak and Sabah have a common interest in pursuing and upholding our rights under the MA63,” she said.

Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) president Maximus Ongkili recently said a formal meeting had been planned with GPS leaders to discuss how they could join hands to protect their rights in the federation.

Nancy Shukri.

Nancy said while aspirations of locals were unequivocally stated in the MA63 agreement and the Inter-Governmental Committee Report, the two states had yet to taste the full benefits of the federation.

“When the new government’s manifesto didn’t materialise, Borneo wanted the federal government to seriously commit to their promises,” she said.

Nancy said Putrajaya should fulfil their promises to both territories, especially with respect to the review of the special grant under Article 112D of the Federal Constitution.

“Under the BN government, negotiations were already taking place between the federal government, Sabah and Sarawak,” she added.

Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg was not available to comment on the matter.

Meanwhile, Sarawak pressure group Solidariti Anak Sarawak (SAS) said it would be good for the two East Malaysian states to team up and protect their rights.

SAS founder Peter John Jaban said Sabah was ahead of Sarawak in the fight to restore rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963.

He credited Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR) president Jeffrey Kitingan for spearheading the movement.

In Sarawak, he said, it started only a few years ago.

“Sabahans know better about MA63 but they are not united,” he told FMT.

“They (Sabahan and Sarawakian leaders) should also stop pointing fingers at each other and work together to safeguard their rights,” he added.