PETALING JAYA: The results of the 15th general election (GE15) has strengthened the Borneo bloc, comprising Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) and Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), which won the majority of the seats in East Malaysia, thus becoming a key force in any plan to form the federal government.

The formation of the Borneo bloc would ensure the rights and best interests of the people of Sabah and Sarawak are safeguarded and they receive their rightful entitlements from the federal government.

Former Cabinet minister Tan Sri Leo Moggie Irok said the collaboration between the two states, which resulted in the Borneo bloc, would place Sabah and Sarawak as kingmakers and serve as a reminder to the federal government of the conditions under which the two states joined the Federation of Malaya to form Malaysia.

He said the bloc would allow Sabah and Sarawak to jointly present views, which would act as leverage in dealings with Putrajaya.

Leo added that the differences between East and Peninsular Malaysia have to be identified and recognised, with different approaches developed to address them.

“For a start, for the Borneo bloc to serve the purpose of its establishment, the parties involved should work only with those who are willing to accept and understand the unique conditions prevailing in Sabah and Sarawak.

“This is essential for accelerated development, particularly in the rural and indigenous communities of the two states. I would also like to emphasise accepting religious pluralism as entrenched in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).”

He also said the Borneo bloc could ensure politics and religion stay separate as religious freedom must be widely accepted and allowed to flourish and be practised among the people.

“Rural development involving infrastructure and education for the indigenous native communities must be given priority at the federal and state levels.

“The terms of MA63 that may have eroded over time should be restored, especially state autonomy rights.”

Echoing similar sentiments, University Malaya political analyst Prof Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi said the creation of the Borneo bloc would bring prosperous benefits to Sabah and Sarawak.

“The bloc can negotiate for a better offer and at the same time, set certain terms and conditions to ensure continuous growth and more power for the two states because at this point, the only way to form a government is to work with it.”

Awang Azman added that the opportunity will allow the bloc to play a vital role in national politics and ensure more focus is given to the aspirations of Sabahans and Sarawakians, in line with MA63.

Meanwhile, Universiti Teknologi Mara School of Media and Information Warfare Studies Security and Political analyst Dr Noor Nirwandy Mat Noordin said the components that established the Borneo bloc must be studied in depth to ensure it does not negate the essence of MA63.

“The most important component of MA63 is to ensure that Sabah and Sarawak have a good relationship with Peninsular Malaysia. This is paramount in the context of national security, to avoid generating threats and instability towards the establishment of Malaysia and for Sabah and Sarawak itself,” he said.