SOP issue shows Sabah leaders are united, will fight for Sabah interests

KOTA KINABALU: The unity of Sabah leaders and the huge backing received by the Chief Minister regarding the relaxing of SOP for the region could be the spark needed to push for bigger things.


Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Jeffrey Kitingan is delighted to notice that GRS leaders unanimously supported Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor’s proposal to detach Sabah from the SOP currently implemented in Malaya and employ a more liberal SOP for Sabah.

“This unity shows that we can work together to advance our demands. When it comes to common interests, Sabahans will band together, regardless of political parties or ideologies.

“This shared interest is not limited to a mere SOP to control COVID-19. Under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), we all have common interests, and I have no doubt that this government will fight to the death for the rights of Sabah and its people,” he said.

Clarifying the need for discussions with Putrajaya on the SOP for Sabah, Kitingan said at the moment, the law is unclear because public health is on the concurrent list.

The problem Sabah is facing now is that it has failed to specify the details of its jurisdiction under public health as it does not have its own enactment on the subject.

“We need an enactment to back us up. We need to strengthen our legal side. We have the constitutional right to develop our own SOP. However, we need to strengthen this further because it is currently quite vague,” he said.

Kitingan explained that, while public health is on the concurrent list, only the federal side has enacted legislation, while Sabah has not. This means only the federal law has the authority presently, necessitating discussions to have the SOP eased for Sabah.

“If we passed an enactment, for example, under a pandemic situation, Sabah could do such and such steps, then we can implement such enactment using concurrent powers,” he said.

Commenting on the King’s statement to reconvene Parliament before August 1, Kitingan said he personally had no objection to a parliament sitting within the next few weeks.

Furthermore, he said the King only acts according to the prime minister’s advice and the current federal cabinet.

“However, I am concerned about the consequences for the country’s fight against Covid-19. I think an online parliamentary session is desirable at the moment. There was a suggestion to conduct a hybrid parliamentary session, and I am all for it.

“At the same time, I believe the emergency should also be lifted because the emergency was imposed to prevent political interference. Otherwise, this parliamentary sitting will render the emergency ineffective,” he concluded.

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