Abang Johari still waiting for Prime Minister to call for MA63 meeting

Abang Johari (centre) touring the Saradise Gallery after witnessing the agreement signing ceremony between Saradise Sdn Bhd and Borneo International School for the setting up of Borneo International School new campus.

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By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, Nov 2: Chief Minster Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg is waiting for Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to call for the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) Steering Committee to meet as the deadline to make decisions on various matters regarding Sarawak and Sabah’s autonomous rights have expired two days ago.

Abang Johari, when met by the media at the agreement signing ceremony between Saradise Sdn Bhd and Borneo International School for the setting up of Borneo International School new campus, emphasised that as far as MA63 Steering committee was concerned, the chairman Dr Mahathir was the one calling the shot.

“Up to the Prime Minister. I am waiting for the Prime Minister to call for the meeting,” he said when asked by the media on the decisions of the MA63 Steering Committee since it has already passed the deadline.

The MA63 Steering Committee, which is also known as the Special Cabinet Committee, has been formed last year to review the MA63 to restore the status of Sarawak and Sabah as equal partners within Malaysia.

The chairman of the committee is Dr Mahathir and the first meeting was called on Dec 17, 2018 while a second meeting was held on May 17 this year.

In August, news reported that the committee was expected to arrive at a decision on various matters related to the restoration of Sarawak and Sarawak’s status as equal partners at the end of the month. However, at the end of August, there was no announcement on the matter by Dr Mahathir.

This had led to local media pursuing the matter with Assistant Minister of Law, State-Federal Relations and Project Monitoring Datuk Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali who said the deadline for MA63 Steering Committee has been further extended to the end of October.

Meanwhile, the end of October was also the deadline for Petronas to pay up the outstanding five per cent Sales Tax on petroleum and petroleum products following the enforcement of Oil Mining Ordinance (OMO) 1958 by the Sarawak government.

The first deadline set by the Sarawak government to Petronas was the end of September 2019 but was later extended to end of October 2019 since that was also the deadline for MA63 Steering Committee.

As of today, there has yet been any sign from Petronas to indicate that it will honour the OMO while other oil companies operating in Sarawak have all paid up.

Even though Abang Johari had in one occasion said he would let the law takes its course on the matter and Sharifah Hasidah had also disclosed that a notice had been sent to Petronas to remind the oil giant of the matter, for the time being, there has yet to be a strong statement from the Sarawak government to Petronas.

On the question raised by the media on Petronas’ failure to meet the deadline, Abang Johari today revealed that he will announce the measures to be taken by the state government to deal with Petronas in the 2020 Sarawak Budget next Monday.

“It will be mentioned in my budget – the Petronas deadline. You just wait on Monday (to see) what I am going to do,” he said.— DayakDaily