CM: Return to fundamentals of Malaysia’s founding to restore Sarawak and Sabah’s rights

Abang Johari delivering his speech during the Malaysia Day celebration at Sibu's Indoor Stadium tonight (Sept 16, 2020).

By Karen Bong

SIBU, Sept 16: Malaysia should return to the fundamentals which were laid as the basis for the establishment of this country as enshrined in the Federal Constitution, Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and Inter-governmental Committee (IGC) Report.

Highlighting this, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg emphasised that Sarawak and Sabah certainly only wanted their rights which have been eroded, either intentionally or unintentionally, to be returned.

“That’s all, nothing more and nothing less. I am confident that the recognition of these fundamentals will further strengthen the spirit of nationhood in all parts of the country towards Malaysia, and not the other way round.

“Believe it, labelling, especially Sarawak as parochial or regional will not help the unification of this country,” he said during his address at the Malaysia Day 2020 celebration at the Indoor Stadium here tonight.

The meaningful and significant occasion was attended by Head of State Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Sabah Minister of Law and Native Affairs Aidi Moktar who represented the Sabah Chief Minister.

Abang Johari emphasised that in any political system, where there were two or more legislative authorities to make laws, these law-making powers have to be clearly demarcated.

But despite such demarcations, he noted that in Malaysia’s case via the Federal, State and Concurrent List, potential disagreement was unavoidable as the exercise of these powers were influenced at times by different needs, aspirations and development or political agenda of the federal or respective state governments.

“I am glad to see that the differences between the federal and the state government—the Sarawak government in particular—are managed through consultation mechanisms provided in the Constitution or through an amicable approach acceptable to both parties based on the rule of law.

“The on-going negotiation in relation to implementation of the Malaysia Agreement amplifies this. Through this meeting of minds in a civil and respectful environment, we are all confident and looking forward to solutions which will see no losers, and more importantly, no derogation of constitutional rights, special safeguards and status accorded to the States of Sabah and Sarawak as agreed by the nation’s founding fathers and embedded 57 years ago in the Federal Constitution,” he emphasised.

Abang Johari pointed out that these were exciting, as well as challenging times for Malaysia and none more so because the features of federalism have been under intense scrutiny by the federal and state governments, with a more knowledgeable rakyat keeping a close eye on the implementation of these features, compared to some 30 years ago.

“The rakyat now is fully aware of theirs as well as their state’s constitutional rights, and special safeguards, and demands that the governments in the federation respect and ensure non-transgression of these rights and safeguards,” he said.

On this day in 1963, Abang Johari added, Malaysia was born by the MA63 made by the British government, the Federation of Malaya and representatives from Singapore, North Borneo (Sabah) and Sarawak.

“MA63 states that the components of the new Federation of Malaysia are (a) the States of the Federation of Malaya; (b) Singapore and (c) the Borneo States of Sabah and Sarawak.

“The federalism which the Malaysian Constitution embraced is therefore unique and tailored-made to ensure the continued unity and harmony of the federation and her future progress and development,” he said.

The Constitution of Malaysia, he continued, provides for a unique federal system of government whereby additional legislative, executive powers and more sources of revenues were assigned to the states of Sabah and Sarawak to safeguard their special interests in the federation of which they were partners in the formation. — DayakDaily