Monday, June 17

Working together on rights


Shafie having a discussion with Abang Johari during a courtesy call at the latter’s office in Kuching on Thursday.

KUCHING: Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Haji Mohd Shafie bin Haji Apdal said he and his Sarawak counterpart, Datuk Patinggi (Dr) Abang Haji Abdul Rahman Zohari bin Tun Datuk Abang Haji Openg agree that whatever is due to both States as contained in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) must be complied with.

He said that while the interests of both Sabah and Sarawak must be protected it must be looked at with the nation as a whole, in mind and cordial discussions are the best way forward.

“We (Sabah and Sarawak) are on the same page in as far as the MA63 is concerned,” Shafie told reporters after paying Abang Johari a courtesy call at the Sarawak Chief Minister’s office at the Bangunan Dewan Undangan Negeri Sarawak in Kuching on Thursday afternoon.

“We realise that. We have to be together to ensure that the works are done accordingly. We are not going to sing different songs,” he said.

He noted that the amendments and return of Sarawak’s and Sabah’s rights under the MA63 were for the benefit of Sarawakians and Sabahans.

He believed it was high time that the federal government looked into the demands from Sabah and Sarawak seriously.

He said when the people of Sarawak and Sabah make the demand it doesn’t mean they don’t love Malaysia.

“We love Malaysia. But what is due, what has been there, put there by our forefathers, we got to realise that.

“To realise that, we have to fulfil what have been there,” he said.

Shafie believes that if there is adjustment to be made, they need to discuss it because when our forefathers formed Malaysia it was done in a peaceful manner, through negotiation and through discussion, not like other nations where all sorts of things happened.

However, both Shafie and Abang Jo said they did not have sufficient time to discuss the MA63 issue in detail during their one-hour meeting.

Shafie said more can be achieved if the discussions were conducted peacefully but stressed that Sabah remains firm that a higher royalty payment on oil and gas must be based on gross.

“There must be some adjustment to the royalty payout. It cannot remain the same (five percent) since 1974,” he said in response to a question by a reporter who had asked if the MA63 issue was discussed.

He also stressed that the demand for 20 per cent royalty was not only for Sarawak but also for Sabah, which is also an oil and gas producing state.

“I have raised the oil royalty issue; it’s not based on net but on gross.

“I realise in the beginning due to high cost of operation may not be enough to Petronas, but since 1974 there must be some adjustment.

“We are not asking for 100 per cent. We are asking for 20 per cent only,” he said.

Shafie believed Sarawak and Sabah did not mind to share the wealth from oil and gas with the country, saying they were asking for was what was due to them.

Shafie is on a two-day visit to Sarawak. Today he will call on Sarawak Head of State, Tun Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud.

Accompanying Shafie are his wife, Datin Seri Panglima Hajah Shuryani binti Datuk Shuaib, Datuk Dr Yusof Yacob, Sabah Minister of Education and Innovation and Datuk Peter Anthony, Minister of Infrastructure Development.

Abang Johari said the amendments to the Federal Constitution and MA63 were some of the issues discussed during his meeting with Shafie.

“We talked about it, but we did not discuss it in detail,” he said at a press conference.

Shafie said he had also made enquiries about the possibility of buying surplus electricity from Sarawak, saying this would be discussed indepth not too long from now.

He said if the price offered by Sarawak is competitive enough, it would make better business sense to buy from a neighbour rather than set up costly power plants.

“If we can purchase power from Sarawak at a reasonable price, then why not,” he said while saying Sarawak’s production cost of power was far cheaper than that produced in Sabah.

Stressing the need for cooperation between the two states, he said Sabah was willing to encourage Sarawak to produce certain parts when the automotive sector in Sabah takes off.

(Tan Chong Motors has given indication that it intends to set up an assembly plant in Sabah for its 4×4 vehicles as well as trucks that are in demand in the Borneo States.)

He also said that there could be joint promotions on tourism so that tourists visiting one state could go on to the other and vice versa.

On Thursday night, Shafie and his delegation attended a State Dinner held in his honour.