PM says the federal government will set up a high level committee to negotiate with state on returning MA63 rights
KUCHING: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak says he is sincere when it comes to returning what rightly belongs to the people of Sarawak.
He gave this assurance in his speech at the opening of the 14th general assembly of Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu Sarawak (PBB) at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching here yesterday.
“I have promised, if we have by design or inadvertently, took the power and the rights of the people in Sarawak, I am willing to return them back to Sarawak.
“We don’t need to take the rights of other people. We are in one family. What is important is we remain in the BN government and our country Malaysia,” he said.
In response to Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg’s speech that Sarawak had during the last State Legislative Assembly sitting passed a government motion to form a high-level special taskforce to take over the state’s negotiation with the federal government, Najib said a high-level committee at the federal level would be established to negotiate with Sarawak on outstanding rights issues under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
Abang Johari had earlier said the state government had decided that Deputy chief ministers Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Jemut Masing, and Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan would represent the state government to negotiate with the federal government and resolve outstanding issues on Sarawak’s rights according to MA63.
“Abang Jo, don’t worry. If you have three of your deputy chief ministers to lead your committee, we will also establish a high level committee at the federal level to negotiate nicely with you in finding a solution.
“We in Barisan Nasional (BN), we can discuss because there are many from Sarawak who are also in the federal cabinet. I am the only Prime Minister who has appointed the most Sarawakians in the cabinet,” the prime minister said.
Alluding to former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Najib noted that in the past, during the tenure of someone who was in power for 22 years, anyone who spoke of MA63 would be detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA).
He pointed out that Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili and other Sabah politicians were among those detained under the ISA for bringing up MA63.
Najib said many others were also detained under the ISA without explanation.
“I want to ask you. Do you want the return of that period?
“I want to quote an English proverb, ‘Can a leopard change its spots?’ Or better still can a very old leopard change its spots?” he questioned.