KUALA LUMPUR, Apr 14, 2021:Two long-standing issues in Sabah and Sarawak have finally found a breakthrough, thanks to the formation of the Special Council on Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MKMA63).
The Council, chaired by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, agreed to handover the administration of the Sipadan and Ligitan islands to the Sabah Government, while Sarawak will have full control and manage its gas distribution.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Sabah and Sarawak Affairs) Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili said the decisions were made during a two-hour meeting, which was also attended by chief ministers of Sabah and Sarawak, Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor and Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg, respectively.
“Yesterday (Tuesday), two historic decisions were made. One was the formal surrender of the Sipadan and Ligitan islands to Sabah, which means full authority and control over the administration of both islands will be under the purview of the Sabah Government. The Prime Minister said Sabah has sovereignty rights on the two islands, which are put under the supervision of the Sabah Parks, and placed under protection of the Protected Areas and Protected Places Act 1959.
“However this is with the exception of the security control, which will still be under the purview of the Federal Government. The Sabah and Sarawak Affairs Division (BHESS) and the National Security Council Malaysia (MKN) will be arranging for the full handover.
“The second matter is the handover to Sarawak over the control and management of gas distribution under the Distribution of Gas Ordinance 2016, which will take effect on June 1,” said Ongkili, who heads the MKMA63 Secretariat, adding that the two issues were resolved within four months since the Council held its maiden meeting in December last year.
He also said that the MKMA63 has also passed many milestones since its one year formation under the Perikatan National Government.
“Many tangible outcomes have been achieved, both in policy and laws, especially in terms of aspirations and goals of fulfilling the MA63 terms.”
Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin, who heads the Security Working Committee under the MKMA63, presented their findings during the meetings, as well as Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy) Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan, who head the Socio-Economy and Equal Partner working committees, respectively.
“Under the Equal Partner Working Committee, two papers were tabled – one on the proposed constitutional amendments under Article 1 (2) and Article 160 (2) of the Federal Constitution, which deals with the definition of the federation.
“The legal team chaired by the Attorney General Tan Sri Idrus Harun, together with the Sabah and Sarawak Attorney-Generals, will conduct a series of meetings to thrash out outstanding issues.
“Their second report is with regards to judiciary issues in the high court of Sabah and Sarawak. A committee has been formed on this to sit with the attorney generals of Sabah and Sarawak,” Ongkili said.
Hamzah, in his report, touched on the outcome of the meetings on illegal immigrants, the Palau’ community and national registrations issues on laws being infringed in Sabah and Sarawak.
Meanwhile Mustapa reported to the Council on poverty data in Sabah and Sarawak, where a detailed report on infrastructure, especially on water, roads, digital and health, as well as requirements and proposed solutions were tabled.
The Committee will also be setting up a database and monitoring centre for the 12th Malaysia Plan for Sabah and Sarawak in the Economic Planning Unit.
Ongkili also said a Joint Consultative Review Committee was also set up between his office and the Finance Ministry, which will be focussing on reviewing the special grants, including the 40 per cent reimbursable provision for Sabah, as stipulated under Article 112 (D) of the Federal Constitution.
“The opposition, during the Pakatan Harapan Government, preached that they had achieved something during their tenure.
“They claimed that of the 21 issues raised, 17 have been addressed. Actually this is not true. The list was made of 21 issues, the committee went through 17 on the list and agreed to address those issues.
“There was no ultimate decision, except for at least two or four issues in Sabah, including forestry. There were mere commitments on their part to resolve those 17 issues, but policies, laws and regulations were yet to be changed and to be tabled in the state assemblies or Parliament.
“We, through the MKMA63, are now doing these amendments on policies, rules and regulations. It is the PN government that will deliver to the people resolutions and solutions,” he stressed.