KUCHING: A Sarawak opposition leader and an NGO have questioned Putrajaya’s refusal to reveal the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) Special Cabinet Committee’s findings and allow them to be debated in Parliament.
DAP assemblywoman Irene Chang said the federal government should explain the real intention for refusing to allow negotiations involving MA63, including the four unresolved issues, to be made public and be debated in Parliament.
“Sarawakians have been waiting for this hour for too long, to be able to get the federal government and Petronas to the negotiating table to discuss the return of the rights and interests accorded to us under MA63,” she told FMT.
“Over the years, we have been short-changed through the Continental Shelf Act 1966, the Petroleum Development Act 1974 and the Territorial Sea Act 2012.
“Sarawakians and Sabahans have suffered economically and socially as a result.
“It is, therefore, unacceptable that after the door had been opened by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government for these negotiations to take place with transparency and accountability, the PN government should now come in to clamp down on transparency and accountability again.
“To disallow it to be debated in Parliament is to deny our MPs, as representatives of the people, an opportunity and right to scrutinise the actions of the executive and to assess the overall benefits of the negotiations.”
Chang urged all MPs from Sarawak, including those from Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), to continue raising the issue in Parliament.
According to her, Sarawak’s state assemblymen would also raise the issue in the next state assembly meeting.
This follows Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Sabah and Sarawak Affairs) Hanifah Hajar Taib’s statement on Monday that there was no need to set up a parliamentary select committee on the implementation of MA63 as the establishment of the special committee was good enough.
Hanifah also said there was no need for the Special Cabinet Committee’s final report to be distributed to the public as the content was technical in nature and involved sensitive matters.
Last December, it was reported that mutual agreement had been reached on 17 of 21 matters tabled by the Sarawak and Sabah governments at the committee’s meeting to review the implementation of MA63.
The remaining four issues, namely the oil royalty and cash payment for petroleum, oil minerals and oil fields, the Territorial Sea Act and the Continental Shelf Act, will be discussed by a special council to be set up in the near future.
Meanwhile, Sarawak Association for Peoples’ Aspiration president Dominique Ng also urged the federal, Sabah and Sarawak governments to make public the special committee’s final report and publish all documents relating to the signing of MA63 and the formation of Malaysia.
He asked if the federal government’s refusal to disclose the report had anything to do with not putting the ruling GPS in a bad light in the coming Sarawak election.
“What and why are they hiding from the people whose lives have been most negatively impacted by the 57 years in the federation?”
Ng said the federal, Sabah and Sarawak governments had a duty to truthfully report on the MA63 review to the people.