Why can’t reveal MA63 negotiations to the people? Yii asks

By Emma Victoria

AS the Special Council on Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) is set to have its first meeting on Nov 30, the government has again been urged to reveal the negotiations and not keep it classified.

Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Sabah and Sarawak Affairs) Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili claim that it was a government-to-government negotiations and thus need not be revealed to public was not acceptable as it involved the rights of all Sarawakians and Sabahans.

“We cannot repeat the mistakes of the past when agreements were made between government-to-government without the knowledge of the people and ended with our rights being eroded,” he said.

He said the special grants to Sarawak and Sabah have been reduced this year to the original figures in 1969.

“Under Pakatan Harapan government, we doubled that amount and revised the figures after more than 40 years and now the Perikatan Nasional government reduced it back to what it was before,” he said.

“Besides, the Special Council on the MA63 under the current PN has not meet for more than eight months. What have they been doing?

“They cannot use Covid-19 as an excuse as there are other ministries in charge or handling the pandemic. Does it mean this Ministry cannot function or carry out its duties during this period?” he asked.

Meanwhile Ongkili said in parliament the meeting will be chaired by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin with Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Abang Johari Abang Openg and Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Mohd Noor attending.

Ongkili said the PN government took a long time to set up the meeting as there was a need for “close relations and communications” with the state government.

“Of course we are thankful for the new government in Sabah. There was no discussion about MA63 for almost eight months because we need a close relationship for this matter,” he told the Dewan Rakyat.

He also said only three out of 21 points were finalised during PH administration. There are the timber export duties and forest products for Sabah, the issue of Sipadan and Ligitan Islands in Sabah and forestry issues.

“14 other points which include the gas, labour, stamp duty issues need law amendments that were yet to materialise,” he said.

Former PH minister Datuk Hanipa Maidin previously said that 17 out of 21 issues identified by the committee had been agreed upon and the remaining four were still under discussion.

The outstanding issues were oil royalties, oil minerals and oil fields, the Territorial Sea Act 2012 and state rights over the continental shelf.