Sarawak lays down what’s negotiable, non-negotiable at meeting

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Jan 3: The Sarawak government laid down four non-negotiable items during the first Special Steering Cabinet Committee to review the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) meeting held in Putrajaya on Dec 17.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg revealed that the non-negotiables are (a) immigration autonomous power, (b) rights to enforce state law in accordance with the Federal Constitution, (c) state border protection and (d) sovereignty over the sea, underground and its resources within the state.

Asked on the special committee’s response when these non-negotiable items were raised, he said: “No reply, (it) means they agree and accept la. Ya la, that’s the indication I got la.

“This is because it is our (Sarawak’s) rights, which are non-negotiable (as stated) within the MA63 (and which is in conformance to) the (special) committee that only discussed within the parameter of MA63 and Malaysia Constitution,” he said.

Abang Johari said this at a press conference after the Sarawak Consultative Committee on Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) met at the State Legislative Assembly Complex today.

Abang Johari (seated, second from left) revealing the details of the last special cabinet meeting on MA63 at a press conference. Also seen (seated from left) are Uggah, Wong and Sharifah Hasidah.

However, he listed five issues that needed to be negotiated, and they are: (1) the need to review special allocation to Sarawak and Sabah under Item 112D of the Federal Constitution, (2) rights for additional financial resources under Tenth Schedule List of the Federal Constitution, (3) residual power under Item 77 of the Federal Constitution, (4) returning of land that is no longer needed by the federal government placed under the Federal Land Commission to Sarawak, and (5) the implementation of federal power in education, medical and health, which are unsatisfactory.

“After all presentations and discussions were made, the meeting agreed that the Sarawak government support the recommendation for constitutional amendment of item 1(2) regarding three regions in the formation of Malaysia.

“The issues presented by Sarawak and Sabah will be looked through thoroughly and further discussed in two committees that have been formed, namely Technical Committee and Working Committee.

“Addition of members for Special Committee as proposed by both Sabah and Sarawak, as well as the review of special matters involving Sabah and Sarawak, will not affect other state’s position in terms of state power to formulate state law, special grant and special revenue under the Federal Constitution,” he pointed out.

The Special Steering Cabinet Committee, he added, had been given six months from Dec 17 to come up with a full report and solutions for issues raised in the meeting.

The Technical Committee and Working Committee will discuss all the matters starting this month, while the next cabinet meeting is expected to be called next month and also in April.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Rahman Karim Hamzah, Second Minister of Finance Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh and Assistant Minister of Law, State-Federal Relations and Project Monitoring Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali were among those present at the press conference. — DayakDaily