MA63 review a good move: Analyst

31 Mar 2019 / 14:23 H.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Government’s proposal to amend Article 1 (2) of the Federal Constitution to make Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia equal partners based on the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) is a good move, as the people in the two states feel that they are being sidelined said Universiti Malaya sociopolitical analyst Prof Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi.

He said the amendment would return the two states as territories or partners with certain autonomous powers over several affairs including development.

“At the moment, whatever Sabah or Sarawak get, other states also need to have it. As partners, Sabah and Sarawak can negotiate directly with the prime minister on any strategic issue involving the interests of the two states.

“Any discussions involving Sabah and Sarawak do not have to involve other states. For example, about Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas), the Sarawak government can negotiate directly with the prime minister and make decisions. Any decision taken by the prime minister will require Petronas to implement it without the bureaucratic barriers like before,“ he told Bernama.

The amendment is expected to be tabled at the current session of Parliament.

Following an amendment made in 1976, Article 1 (2) of the Federal Constitution stated that the Federal states comprised Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Pahang, Penang, Perak, Perlis, Sabah, Sarawak, Selangor and Terengganu. This means that the two states are of the same status as the states in the peninsula and are not two separate territories or equal partners with Peninsular Malaysia.

Awang Azman said the people of Sabah and Sarawak wanted the two states to pursue their own development.

In line with the New Malaysia principle by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government, he said the voice of the people of Sabah and Sarawak was heard so much so the government agreed to the proposal to amend Article 1 (2), as compared to the previous Barisan Nasional administration which merely considered the two states as fixed deposits (for votes).

Universiti Utara Malaysia’s College of Law, Government and International Studies dean Assoc Prof Dr Ahmad Marthada Mohamed said although Sabah and Sarawak had been recognised as part of Malaysia, the two states were seen as falling far behind, especially in infrastructure development and socio-economic standards.

“The people of Sabah and Sarawak feel that they are not getting a fair deal as Sabah and Sarawak are among the five states with the highest poverty rates,“ he said.

He added the amendment was timely and would have been better if had been done a long time ago. — Bernama

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