KOTA KINABALU: The position of the special interests and special rights for Sabah is not something political leaders, be it from the government or opposition, should argue about, said Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Raymond Tan Shu Kiah.
Tan, who is also the Minister of Industrial Development, assured that it is definitely the responsibility of the State Government to make sure the Federal Government is made aware of the special interests and rights of Sabah.
“We do not do it for political interests. These are the special rights and these special rights, if at any time had been taken away from us, then that would have to be returned and restored to Sabah and Sarawak,” Tan said to reporters after witnessing the corruption-free pledge of his ministry here yesterday.
He was asked to comment on Parti Cinta Sabah (PCS) president Datuk Seri Wilfred Bumburing’s call to the State Government to emulate Sarawak in tabling a motion in the coming Sabah State Legislative Assembly session.
Bumburing had said that the move would give the State Government the mandate of the assembly to act on reclaiming Sabah’s rights based on the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
Tan, in his previous statement, has dismissed Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman cum former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s comment on reviewing MA63 and renegotiating with Sabah and Sarawak a deal that was fair to all parties. The minister had said then that Sabahans only wanted to protect the State’s special rights rather than renegotiate a new deal with Mahathir or PH.
In reiterating this yesterday, Tan said he had disagreed on the renegotiation of an agreement like MA63 without knowing what exactly the State was negotiating for.
Tan said he hads made a clarification regarding Mahathir’s statement whereby the special interests and special rights of Sabah and Sarawak have already been recognized at the time when the MA63 was signed.
“When you (Mahathir) say you want to rewrite the agreement, it caused a lot of concern to the people of Sabah and Sarawak as if you do not recognize our special interests and special rights.”
He said there have been statements even from the opposition that Mahathir had never looked at the states that came to form Malaysia in the form of a federation.
“He was thinking more of a unilateral government, that is, all the powers will only be centred to the Federal Government, to Putrajaya.”
However, Tan emphasized that Sabah and Sarawak have rights under the MA63 that needed to be recognized even if the provisions were not written in the Federal Constitution.
Meanwhile, he said the motion passed by the Sarawak Government clearly specified that the state government wanted the Federal Government to honour the special rights and special interests under the MA63.
“In other words, the motion passed by the Sarawak Government says that there is no more rewriting of MA63. I hope opposition leaders would not make excuses and talk about certain things that are not right.”
Tan said the position of the special interests and special rights for Sabah was not something political leaders, be it from the government or opposition, should argue about.
“It is even worse that we confuse the people about our position.”
He said the State Government of Sabah would make sure the Federal Government is made fully aware with regards to our special interests and special rights.
On the corruption-free pledge initiated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), Tan said his ministry takes it seriously as a reminder to reject corruption.
MACC Sabah deputy director Zulkefle Abdul Hamid also called on the ministry’s staff to ‘walk the talk’ and put into practice the pledge.
He warned that the penalty for corruption-related offences is a maximum 20 years’ imprisonment and a minimum fine of RM10,000 or five times the value of the bribe, whichever is higher.
Also present at the ceremony were Assistant Industrial Development Minister Datuk Bolkiah Ismail, permanent secretary of the ministry, Datuk Haji Hashim Paijan, deputy permanent secretary, Tseu Kei Yue, and Department of Industrial Development and Research director Patrick Tan Su Teck.