PDP president: Don’t involve govt and Pakatan’s steering committee in MA63 negotiations

Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing

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KUCHING, Sept 18: The Federal government should not involve the steering committee based on Transformation and Political Stability memorandum of understanding (MOU) in the negotiations involving the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) to avoid overlapping discussions and confusion.

Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) president Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing was referring to a new steering committee formed following the signing of the MOU between the Federal government and Pakatan Harapan (PH) on Sept 13.

He said it must be the existing MA63 Consultative Committee headed by Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg that should continue the negotiations.

“If one is truly committed to the well-being of Sarawakians, do not allow the new committee to disrupt the situation and jeopardise the restoration of Sarawak’s rights,” he said in a statement today.

He also called on the Federal government and MA63 Consultative Committee to expedite the negotiations so that Sarawak may regain the autonomy that it deserves and move on with more space and ability to improve the people’s quality of life.

Tiong, who is also the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy to China and Bintulu MP further said that the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) State government has never forgotten the trust of the Sarawak people to achieve the results that are expected from the negotiations.

However, he explained that the discussions have been delayed following the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic where both the Federal and State governments were immediately forced to devote its attention to fight the pandemic as a top priority.

“At the moment, even though discussions related to MA63 have been delayed, it does not mean in any way that it has been abandoned. Primary focus must be on saving lives from the unprecedented pandemic.

“Now that most have generally become resigned to the fact that the pandemic has gradually entered the endemic stage, the MA63 Consultative Committee will continue its mission to negotiate with the federal authorities on the rights and status of Sarawak as an equal partner in the formation of Malaysia, and pursue practical and long-term development plans.

“It is thus extremely unfair and false to say that the Sarawak government is not committed to pursuing the implementation of MA63,” he stressed.

He added that since the establishment of MA63 Consultative Committee by GPS on Nov 6, 2018, the committee has negotiated the return of State’s autonomy, conducted detailed studies and negotiated the terms of Agreement.

At the same time, Tiong also recalled that PH’s version of a proposed amendment to the Federal Constitution in April 2019 attracted only opposition and contention.

“At that time, the proposed amendment by the PH government was strongly opposed by GPS during the first reading, as we demanded that the proposed amendment to the entire agreement be fully re-addressed to reflect the status of Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners to the Federation.

“Sarawak will not forget that PH’s proposed amendments had left out words crucial to the provisions in the MA63 during the first reading, which PH of course denied.

“The bill to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution put forth by PH at the time did not reflect the spirit of the MA63 agreement and GPS wanted it to properly reflect the provisions in the agreement during the second reading. However, this demand was twisted by PH to make it seem as though GPS does not support the proposed amendments to the Constitution,” he mentioned. – DayakDaily