Friday, July 10

Special council to monitor decisions


Sabah CM says conclusions made at MA63 meetings must be implemented without delay

KUCHING: A Special Council will be set up to monitor the implementation of decisions made pertaining to the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), says Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal.

The Special Council replaces the Special Cabinet Steering Committee that was tasked to look into the implementation of MA63. The Steering Committee ended on Monday.

Shafie when replying to Tambunan assemblyman Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan in the State Legislative Assembly yesterday said the Special Council will be chaired by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad.

“Now we have a special council to ensure what we have decided and agreed upon pertaining to decisions agreed on in the matter of MA63 (are implemented),” he said.

On the oil issue, there will also be a special body chaired by Tun Dr Mahathir and the chief ministers of Sabah and Sarawak, he said adding that they will be discussing in details on how to achieve what the
two states need, the 20 per cent and the oil royalty among others.

Jeffrey wanted to know the progress of the discussion between the Sabah and Sarawak governments with its federal counterpart on the issue of the two states’ rights as enshrined in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

“Why does the committee still want to discuss and negotiate when our focus is on the implementation of the Constitution and our rights enshrined in the Constitution and MA63?

“Why do we need to discuss about royalty because it is the state’s right? Article 112 C (4) Section B states ‘Parliament shall not be authorised to prohibit the levying of royalties or restrict royalties that maybe levied so that Sabah and Sarawak is not entitled to receive royalty of 10 per cent ad valorem value.

“This means we decide how to collect our royalties, not the federal government and the federal government cannot authorise parliament to prevent us from collecting royalties,” he said.

Dr Jeffrey urged the state government not to let the federal government bully it too much.

He also asked the state government if it recognises the agreement signed by former Chief Minister Tan Sri Harris Salleh on June 14, 1976 because in that agreement Sabah voluntarily agreed not to levy royalties.

Shafie in his reply said he is sympathetic to the issues raised by Dr Jeffrey as the MA63 issue is also something that is close to his heart.

“My gratitude goes to the Prime Minister as he is beginning to listen (and) we have formed a special committee to monitor the development of the decisions made. Now we have a special council to ensure what we have decided and agreed on will be successful.

“We will make sure that the implementation is not stunted and the Prime Minister is not letting go of his role to ensure that this becomes a reality.

“He said last night that there will be a meeting next month.

Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal

“This shows how serious the current government and leadership is in trying to resolve this issue. We are not sitting on our laurels, we are not complacent, we are not waiting for another two to three years because we have been waiting for more than 50 years,” Shafie said.

“Our decision will depend on the meeting next month. I am confident (as) the projection given is that we will be getting an increase in revenue as Sabah is the largest oil producing state in the country and second after Sarawak in gas production,” he added.

According to Shafie further, the state cannot depend too much on oil and gas as its main revenue earner therefore the need to look for alternative resources.