Financial review for special grants, status of Borneo High Court among 14 issues being discussed by MA63 special committee, reveals CM

Abang Johari fielding questions from reporters.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Aug 20: Sarawak’s financial review and retention of the status of the Borneo High Court are among the 14 remaining issues still being discussed by the Special Cabinet Committee To Review the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg pointed out that some of the issues were being deliberated upon by the Technical Committee.

“One of it is the financial review (for special grants). The other is retaining the status of the Borneo High Court which they (the committee) have agreed to in principle,” he told reporters after receiving courtesy calls from several organisations at his office in Wisma Bapa Malaysia here today.

“There is the High Court of Malaya so we want to retain the status of the Borneo High Court as well,” he said.

On the seven issues concerning MA63 which had received joint agreement, Abang Johari emphasised that there were only six issues concerning Sarawak as the issue on the administration of Pulau Sipadan and Ligitan concerned Sabah.

“Let the technical committee discuss (on the issues). Our target (deadline to resolve the issues) is supposed to be October,” he added.

According to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office yesterday, there are 14 issues still requiring further discussions and is expected to be resolved by Aug 31.

The Special Cabinet Committee had directed the Special Task Force Team on the MA63 (Taskforce MA63) to prepare a final report before Aug 31 to be tabled at its next meeting.

The decisions announced yesterday were achieved at a Special Cabinet Committee Meeting on July 23 and attended by 23 committee members comprising Federal Cabinet Ministers, Abang Johari himself, Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal and senior officials from the federal government, as well as Sarawak and Sabah state governments.

The six issues which have been agreed upon were export duty claims on logging exports and forest products, gas distribution and regulatory powers on electricity and gas, implementation of Federal and State Public Works, manpower, power of the state on health issues as well as agricultural and forestry issues.

On oil and gas rights of Sabah and Sarawak, Abang Johari confirmed that the issue is being dealt with directly between himself, Shafie Apdal and Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“Yes, it will not be discussed in the steering committee as this is something special. Discussion is ongoing and we will provide the update as it goes,” he said.

Recently, Assistant Minister of Law, State-Federal Relations and Project Monitoring Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali revealed that the negotiation was done via the Ministry of Economic Affairs before this.

However, she said that the Prime Minister had announced that he will personally take over the negotiation when the steering committee met last month.

There will be more meetings between the three parties as Sarawak’s negotiations were not just about demanding 20 per cent oil and gas royalties, a motion on which had been unanimously passed in the State Legislative Assembly (DUN).

Sarawak is particularly concerned about the five per cent sales tax on petroleum products which it sees as its right under the Federal Constitution. — DayakDaily