KOTA KINABALU: Sabah opposition leader Jeffrey Kitingan has told a state minister to focus on regaining state rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) instead of engaging in “empty talk” to dispute the Sarawak government.
This comes after state Infrastructure Development Minister Peter Anthony, who is also the Warisan vice-president, rubbished Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister James Jemut Masing’s claim that Sabah was adopting a “wait and see” attitude on negotiations on MA63.
Kitingan, who is also the federal deputy tourism, arts and culture minister, said Anthony and the Sabah government should walk the talk on MA63 and uphold the state’s rights.
“He should be aware that genuine Sabahans are disappointed over the stand taken by Chief Minister Shafie Apdal and his government over MA63 and their failure to uphold Sabah’s rights especially on the revenue provisions that the state is legitimately and constitutionally entitled to,” he said in a statement today.
A Sarawak news portal had quoted Masing as saying Sabah leaders were adopting a “wait and see” attitude on the matter, and urged them to “stand like a man” and not “ride on Sarawak’s coat tails all the time”.
In response, Anthony said Shafie had, from the start, fought for the return of Sabah’s rights. He said Masing, whom he described as the “naughty boy” of the Sarawak Cabinet, had been seen fishing for cheap publicity lately.
Anthony said Masing had been doing so to cover up the weaknesses of his party, Parti Rakyat Sarawak, that would be facing the state elections soon.
Kitingan said Sabah was entitled to 40% of the net revenues derived from the state as set out in Article 112C and Part IV of the 10th Schedule in the Federal Constitution.
He said that in the last review in 1969, with a base of RM20 million and an annual increment of 7.5%, the figure should be RM26.7 million for 1973.
He said it had remained at RM26.7 million since then until 2019 without the 7.5% annual increment and despite the actual 40% due to Sabah “amounting to tens of billions of ringgit annually”.
“If the figure was with an annual increment of 7.5%, the sum payable for 2020 would have been RM799.30 million.
“However, the Sabah government had last year agreed to accept the sum of RM53.4 million instead of insisting on the tens of billions of ringgit due. Even if Shafie had insisted on the 7.5% annual increment, the sum payable for 2020 would have been RM799.30 million.
“By accepting the RM53.4 million, Shafie and the Sabah government had caused the people of Sabah to lose RM745.90 million without even considering even the actual 40%,” he said.
To rub salt to the wound, Kitingan said, the previous Pakatan Harapan government, “particularly DAP leaders”, promised to Sabahans and Sarawakians in their election manifesto to return 50% of the revenues collected from both states.
“Perhaps, Anthony should ponder on this and respond on why the Sabah government has taken Sabahans for a ride instead.
“He should also remind his chief minister that he and his other comrades had boasted before GE14 that there was no need to negotiate on MA63 and would implement them straight away.
“Unfortunately, it has been almost two years since the general election and none of those promises have been fulfilled,” he said.