Sunday, March 24

Restoring partner status

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Dr Mahathir (seated centre), flanked by Abang Johari (left) and Shafie, in a photo call with members of the special committee and federal cabinet ministers prior to the meeting yesterday.

KUCHING: The Special Cabinet Committee convened for the first time in Putrajaya yesterday to review the restoration of Sarawak and Sabah’s status as partners in the Federation of Malaysia as enshrined in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

The meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and attended by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg and Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal, among others.

“The MA63 is the basis of the close relationship between the three regions.

“The committee will recommend to the federal government to restore the rights and autonomy status of Sabah and Sarawak, as this is in line with the provisions enshrined in the Federal Constitution, MA63 and provisions in Chapter 3, Annexes A and B of the Report of the Inter-Governmental Committee 1962,” said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law) Datuk Liew Vui Keong in a statement.

Prior to this, the Legal Affairs Division in the Prime Minister’s Department, being the secretariat, has held several meetings with the governments of Sabah and Sarawak, the federal Attorney-General Chambers, Finance Ministry, Economic Affairs Ministry and Public Services Department earlier on this year.

The meetings, according to the statement, agreed to seriously address the claims by these two states.

Federal Cabinet ministers who attended yesterday’s meeting were Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, Works Minister Baru Bian, Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, Transport Minister Anthony Loke, Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Darell Leiking, and Liew.

The Sabah delegation comprised Sabah Attorney-General (AG) Datuk Zaleha Rose Pandin and former Sabah AG Datuk Stephen Foo, while Sarawak’s delegation was made up of Assistant Minister of Law, Federal-State Relationship and Project Monitoring Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali, and State Legislative Assembly Deputy Speaker Datuk Gerawat Gala.

Federal Attorney-General Tommy Thomas, Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Datuk David Wong and constitutional law expert Professor Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi were also among those present.