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By Nigel Edgar
KUCHING, Oct 26: Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg hopes Putrajaya will give a positive response to address his concerns on the lopsided MA63 Special Cabinet Committee line-up.
The chief minister viewed the steering committee headed by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as not favouring Sabah and Sarawak. He called for the representation issue to be addressed immediately.
He voiced his opinion to the committee right after the announcement of its set up last month, by the de facto Law Minister Liew Vui Keong, to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution that would eventually pave way for the discussion and negotiation with regards to restoring the rights of Sabah-Sarawak as stipulated under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
Only three members of the steering committee are Sarawakians out of 16, which consisted Abang Johari, Works Minister Baru Bian and Sarawak Attorney-General Datuk Talat Mahmood Abdul Rashid.
The chief minister felt the line-up should be modeled after the Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC), which discussed the formation of Malaysia in 1963.
“Sarawak and Sabah have been recognised as equal partners in the formation of Malaysia. Therefore, members of the committee must be in equal number – Sabah, Sarawak and the Federal Government,” he said at the Advocates’ Association of Sarawak (AAS) gala dinner here on Friday.
Abang Johari added: “I have registered my concerns, I have informed Putrajaya of our desire to have a discussion based on the IGC. I hope that they will respond and we will deliberate MA63 in a friendly manner.”
Assistant Minister for Law, State-Federal Relations and Project Monitoring Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali, who also attended the event, told reporters that the state government just want the line-up to be based on the IGC.
“It would be a better representation where a fairer form of talks and negotiations could be carried out in that manner.
“Like what the chief minister has said, the line-up is too lopsided, too many West Malaysian members. So I think the best would be for Sarawak and Sabah to have their own (picked) IGC members,” she said. — DayakDaily