KOTA KINABALU: DAP Kota Kinabalu member of parliament Chan Foong Hin supported STAR president Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan’s push for the federal government to fulfil its financial obligations towards Sabah and Sarawak.
Jeffrey, who is deputy chief minister, had on Tuesday criticised Putrajaya over long-overdue payments of grants constitutionally guaranteed to both states.
He said that if the federal government met its monetary obligations to the Bornean states, both would be able to solve their own financial problems and carry out more development.
“The only reason I can think of why Jeffrey would resort to his tirade openly in the media, instead of communicating within the system, is because there is no such system within Perikatan Nasional (PN) for grouses to be heard in the first place,” Chan said in a statement here on Wednesday.
“Jeffrey has probably reached a dead end with such recalcitrance,” he added.
Chan who is Sabah DAP secretary, also contended that the timing of the Keningau MP’s statement also raised eyebrows as Prime Minister Datuk Seri Muhyiddin Yassin had only recently announced that Sabah and Sarawak were “regions” and not “states”.
“Does this mean that the prime minister’s announcement is merely lip service?
“Does this also mean that Jeffrey, being a deputy chief minister, is being ignored within PN and cannot even convince his coalition partners as to what is right or wrong as far as Sabah and Sarawak are concerned?
“In this regard, I am in solidarity with Jeffrey. PN should not ignore his ‘thinly-veiled dig’ for it may lead to the downfall of PN.”
Jeffrey on Tuesday said there were several clauses in the Federal Constitution that detailed Putrajaya’s monetary obligations towards Sabah and Sarawak.
He highlighted the federal government’s obligation to pay a special grant amounting to 40% of net revenue derived by the federation from Sabah. The federal government currently pays Sabah only RM26.7 million.
“This is only one. Other financial arrangements agreed upon and adopted into the amended Federal Constitution under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) include road grants, capitation grants, and import and export duties,” he said.
Chan recalled that during Pakatan Harapan’s rule, the federal government had doubled the special grant payments for Sabah and Sarawak in the 2020 budget, with Sabah to receive RM53.4 million. The payments were to be doubled again within the next five years.
“The 40% entitlement would have been achieved gradually according to plan. Unfortunately, this plan did not work out after the fall of the PH government.”
He added the PH government had also resolved 17 of 21 issues pertaining to the MA63.
Chan called on the Sabah MPs in the PN government to join him in urging Muhyiddin to call for a Parliament sitting in June after Hari Raya, after all MPs have been vaccinated.
He added the first action should be to is retable the Federal Constitution (Amendment) Bill — which sought to restore the status of Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners in the Malaysian federation and not merely states — that was defeated in 2019.
He said then, Sabah MPs, including Jeffrey, had supported the bill.
“It was such a good showing. However, the bill was defeated due to PAS, Umno and Gabungan Parti Sarawak refusing to let PH get the credit.
“I would like to urge Ranau MP Jonathan Yasin, Pensiangan MP Arthur Kurup, PBS (Parti Bersatu Sabah) president Maximus Ongkili and also Jeffrey to support the call to have a sitting in June so that we can raise these issues and resolve them once and for all,” Chan said.