Sabah satisfied with MA63 talks but refinements needed, says Shafie

Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal says he agrees with Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s call for Sabahans and Sarawakians to think as Malaysians.

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal is happy with the progress of talks concerning the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) although he admits many aspects still need refinement.

Shafie said the steering committee to review and implement the MA63 had discussed almost 40 issues pertaining to the rights of Sabah and Sarawak.

He said a technical committee and task force were set up to look into the details of areas of autonomy to be returned to the states before being presented to the steering committee chaired by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

As announced by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) yesterday, he said, jurisdiction over forestry, regulatory powers on electricity and gas distribution, and the management of the Sipadan and Ligitan islands had been returned to Sabah.

“There are still other discussions ongoing, for example, the 40% oil royalty which we tabled at the main committee meeting,” he said after the launch of a cook book by his wife, Shuryani Shuaib, at a hotel here today.

Seven issues concerning MA63 had received joint agreement as of July 23 while 14 issues still required further discussion and were expected to be resolved before Aug 31, the PMO said yesterday.

It said the Special Cabinet Committee To Review the MA63 had directed the Special Task Force Team on MA63 (Taskforce MA63) to prepare a final report before Aug 31 to be tabled at the next meeting of the committee.

The PMO said the decisions were achieved at a committee meeting on July 23 attended by 23 committee members comprising federal Cabinet ministers, the Sarawak and Sabah chief ministers and senior officials from the two states and the federal government.

Shafie said the state had appointed a company to look into the takeover of Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB), which is under federal purview now.

“Not everything can be resolved in a short period of time because it involves several factors such as federal revenue collection from the state,” he said, adding the state and federal agencies needed to work together on this.

“But this is what we have been asking for all these years in terms of state rights. We are grateful to the PM although other refinements are needed,” he said.

Shafie also agreed with Mahathir’s call for Sabahans and Sarawakians to think as Malaysians. But he clarified that the “Sabah for Sabahans” slogan did not mean Sabahans were being parochial.

He said the slogan was actually a call for state rights, adding that other states also had their own slogans.

“(But) I agree with Tun that it is most important that when we build a nation, there must be some sense of love towards Malaysia,” said the Semporna MP.

Mahathir had recently urged Sabahans and Sarawakians to think as Malaysians following criticism that Putrajaya did not consult East Malaysia over several issues.

He said the “Sabah for Sabahans” and “Sarawak for Sarawakians” mentality was unhealthy, adding that everyone should think of themselves as Malaysians and not individual territories.