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KUCHING, Dec 19: Former Batu Lintang assemblyman Voon Lee Shan is advocating that Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad should not sit on the Special Cabinet Committee (SCC), also known as the MA63 (Malaysia Agreement 1963) Steering Committee.
He opined that the presence of Dr Mahathir could exercise undue influence on members of the SCC, which met for the first time on Dec 17 in Putrajaya.
Voon said the task of the SCC was to make recommendations to the federal government on the restoration of rights and autonomy status of Sabah and Sarawak in line with the provisions enshrined in the Federation Constitution, MA63, amongst others.
He wondered whether Dr Mahathir, sitting as chairman of SCC, was representing the Federation of Malaya or sitting as the prime minister of Malaysia at the negotiation table.
Voon, who is a lawyer, opined that Dr Mahathir should not sit on the SCC or in any committee to determine matters concerning MA63 as he could exercise undue influence on members of the SCC or any other committee that he sits on.
“He need not speak, but his presence during any such committee meeting will make the attendees uncomfortable and/or difficult to express or to discuss matters without restraint.
“Now, with Dr Mahathir sitting as the prime minister, this immediately causes the respective chief ministers of Sabah and Sarawak to come to the negotiation table on an unequal par/status.
“This, therefore, takes away the spirit of equal partnership or equal status before even hitting the negotiation table. The teams from Sabah and Sarawak are put in an inferior position with the team from Malaya,” said Voon in a press statement yesterday.
He said there was Sarawak DAP and PKR representation in the SCC, but these elected representatives might have to succumb to Dr Mahathir, who is their political master.
He said the DAP and PKR members on the Sarawak negotiation team may find themselves in a very difficult position to express themselves because Dr Mahathir is “a big person and their boss”.
“They may have to listen to him or find themselves just listening to the boss or taking a cue from him before they speak.
“With the inequality of representations in the SCC and other committees set up to look into issues affecting MA63, the countries of Sabah and Sarawak are in for a losing game against the Federation of Malaya,” argued Voon.
He said issues concerning the restoration of rights and restoration of partner status of Sabah and Sarawak involved complex politics, and constitutional and international laws.
“Our leaders of North Borneo (now Sabah) and Sarawak during negotiations for the formation of the Federation of Malaysia, lost to the shrewdness of Tunku Abdul Rahman, which caused nothing to be mentioned in the Federal Constitution to say that Sabah and Sarawak are equal partners in the Federation of Malaysia.
“Having said that, it must be remembered that when Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak formed the Federation of Malaysia with the Federation of Malaya, these nations all sat down in equal status. Tunku Abdul Rahman represented the Federation of Malaya to negotiate the terms and conditions for the Federation of Malaysia,” he pointed out.
He said the Federation of Malaysia was formed based on the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), which many legal experts viewed as a null and void ab initio (from the beginning) agreement, which means that if void ab initio, there should not have been born the Federation of Malaysia. — DayakDaily