PETALING JAYA: Sabah and Sarawak affairs minister Armizan Ali has dismissed a claim by a Warisan leader that a government gazette on the tax sharing formula on federal revenue collected from Sabah remains a “secret” for over 50 years.
The federal minister said the gazette was laid before the Dewan Rakyat on Dec 8, 1971 as statute number 216 of 1971.
“This can be verified in the parliamentary records and meeting agenda for the same date, which lists the government gazette as one of the documents to be discussed in the meeting that day,” he told FMT.
Armizan was responding to Azis Jamman, who, in March last year, questioned why the gazette had been kept “secret” since 1970.
Azis, who was then Sepanggar MP, said he made the discovery after reading a letter from then finance minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz that was addressed to Dewan Rakyat Speaker Azhar Harun and copied to him.
The letter was in response to Azis’ motion, which was rejected, to refer Tengku Zafrul for disciplinary action for misleading the house over the 40% tax sharing formula, which is provided for under Article 112C of the Federal Constitution.
He said Tengku Zafrul, in his letter, had stated that he did not mislead the house as there was a government gazette on an amendment to use Article 112D as the basis for the annual special grant payment to the state.
The federal and Sabah governments had agreed that the rate for the annual payments would be implemented under Article 112D, rendering the original formula under Article 112C inapplicable.
Armizan today questioned Azis’ motive in coming up with such a “false and confusing” statement.
He said, as an experienced former deputy minister and former MP, Azis should have been more careful and responsible with his statements, especially when it involves institutions like the monarchy and Parliament.
Challenging Sulu heirs at International Court of Justice
On Warisan president Shafie Apdal’s call for the government to challenge the claim by Sulu heirs at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Armizan said the matter fell outside the scope of the ICJ’s jurisdiction.
He said the ICJ has the authority to adjudicate on legal disputes between states (countries).
“It is important to note that the claimants who asserted their status as heirs of the Sulu sultanate are not representatives of a sovereign state but rather a group of individuals. Consequently, their case does not fall within the purview of the ICJ’s jurisdiction.”