State govt mandated to resolve constitutional, special rights issues

KUCHING: The state government has been given the mandate to form a high level special task force to negotiate with the federal government to resolve all outstanding issues related to the compliance and upholding of the constitutional safeguards and special rights accorded to the state of Sarawak in accordance with the terms, intent and spirit of the Malaysia Agreement, 1963 (MA63).

The mandate was given after all members of the august House voted to approve the Ministerial motion moved by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas on MA63 and matters related thereafter.

The motion was seconded by Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Masing.

Four members from the opposition – See Chee How (PKR – Batu Lintang), Wong King Wei (DAP-Padungan), Chong Chieng Jen (DAP-Kota Sentosa) and Baru Bian (PKR-Ba Kelalan) as well as two members from the Barisan Nasional – Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian and Assistant Minister of Local Government Datu Penguang Manggil participated in the debate.

In moving the motion, Uggah recalled that in December, 2015, the august House passed a Motion, introduced by Masing to mandate the state government to take all necessary measures under the said Article VIII of the Malaysia Agreement for the complete implementation of all recommendation in the Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) Report and the safeguards of the special interests of the state and its people.

He said after the motion was passed, the state government had taken the measures towards the realisation of the objectives set out therein.

“Whilst agreement has been reached on some of the issues and resolved through administrative action, some important constitutional and financial issues have yet to be satisfactorily resolved,” he said.

Uggah pointed out that to reinforce the state’s position on these unresolved issues, the state government felt that it was incumbent to gather as much documentary evidence to ensure that the State has a strong legal position to facilitate the negotiations with the federal government.

In this respect, he said it was important to have sight of original copies of these documents.

“These are only available in the British National Archives. We have procured, certified and authenticated copies of these important documents.

“Thus, a team headed by the Assistant Minister and Member for Semariang (Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali) was sent to London for this important purpose.

“It is without doubt that the state is now in a stronger negotiating position following the retrieval and confirmation of the availability of relevant documents,” he said.

Aside from Sarawak rights as enshrined in the MA63, Uggah also touched on other constitutional issues thereafter such as boundaries of Sarawak, oil mining rights and state laws as well as Territorial Sea Act, 2012.

Uggah said the resolution of the important legal and constitutional issues that he had highlighted in the motion must also be undertaken by the highest levels at both federal and state levels.

He said the state government would humbly request the federal government to establish a corresponding task force, so as to facilitate the resolution of these issues amicably and in the national interests with the State’s interests and rights properly safeguarded and entrenched.

He noted that the passing of this motion should not in any way be misinterpreted or construed to mean that the state is willing to sacrifice and jeopardise the continued existence of Malaysia as a nation.

“We respect and honour the decision of our past leaders for our beloved state to be part of Malaysia and we will always remain in Malaysia. Let there be no doubt about this fact,” he said.

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