Equal partner status for Sabah, Sarawak still on agenda, says Dr M

Dr Mahathir Mohamad (in pink) and Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal (left) watching Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg signing the guest book at the Malaysia Day celebrations in Kuching today.

KUCHING: The federal government has pledged to continue efforts to return “equal partner” status to Sabah and Sarawak, as well as several other issues about the Malaysia Agreement 1963.

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said tonight that although a constitutional amendment on equal partner status was defeated in Parliament, the federal government would continue with its efforts to restore the two states’ status.

“The federal government has established the Special Cabinet Committee to review the implementation of the Malaysia Agreement,” he said in a speech at Malaysia Day celebrations here today. The Sabah and Sarawak chief ministers were part of the 23-member committee, which had met several times to further discuss states’ rights.

“Differences of opinion is common when we are no longer threatened, however, it must be brought into discussion so that we’ll be able to achieve resolution,” he said.

He hoped the leaders of both states would appreciate the federal government’s sincerity about restoring equal partner status.

Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg thanked Mahathir for establishing the committee to deal with Malaysia Agreement issues.

“The current negotiation in relation to implementation of the Malaysia Agreement, chaired by Mahathir, amplifies this.”

“We are all confident and looking forward to solutions which will see no losers and more importantly, no derogation of constitutional rights, special safeguards and status accorded to the states of Sabah and Sarawak as agreed by the nation’s founding fathers and embedded 56 years ago in the Federal Constitution,” he said.