A second independence
Dr M: Sabah and Sarawak to get back lost rights under MA63
The festivities reached dizzying heights by nightfall. The cheers and applause from the tens of thousands at Padang Merdeka in Kota Kinabalu gave way to a deafening roar when the Prime Minister awarded them a Malaysia Day gift – the status of Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners with Peninsular Malaysia is to be restored. The Prime Minister calls it ‘a second independence’.
KOTA KINABALU: The status of Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners with Peninsular Malaysia will be restored under the New Malaysia and Pakatan Harapan federal government, says the Prime Minister.
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said this was part of the process that would be implemented once the review on the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) was completed.
In the past, Sabah, Sarawak, Singapore and the Federation of Malaya had agreed to form a bigger family called Malaysia, he said.
“During the formation of Malaysia on Sept 16, 1963, in the agreement that we call MA63, the four territories merged as equal partners.
“However, Malaysia has gone through a winding course since then and two years after its formation, Singapore exited.
“The years that followed also changed the status of Sabah and Sarawak from equal partners to states within Malaysia.
“The New Malaysia and the Pakatan government is aware of this and will restore the status of equal partners to Sabah and Sarawak,” said Dr Mahathir during the Malaysia Day celebration at Padang Merdeka here last night.
He said the restoration of the status as outlined in the MA63 would provide a solid foundation to strengthen the relationship between Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia.
“Surely, the development needs of Sabah and Sarawak have to be given attention as there are still districts with poor infrastructure.
“The study on MA63 will also surely give rise to the need to review several things that were previously implemented.
“Our hope is that the review needs to be done with the spirit of loyalty, mutual respect and high tolerance among us,” he said.
Without such a spirit, unity as a nation and one people would be eroded and the beauty enjoyed together all this while would disappear, he warned.
The move announced by Dr Mahathir is part of Pakatan’s promise to restore lost rights under MA63.
Under the original Schedule 1(2) of the Federal Constitution following the formation of Malaysia, the states of the federation were the federation of Malaya with the names of the 11 states in brackets, Singapore and the Borneo states of Sabah and Sarawak.
But in 1976, the Constitution was amended to downgrade Sabah and Sarawak as the 12th and 13th states of Malaysia instead of equal partners.
“The Pakatan federal government will surely not forget its duties to Sabah and Sarawak and will find a way to develop the infrastructure according to the people’s needs and demands,” said Dr Mahathir.
He also said the longrunning relationship between the people showed that there was a need for a spirit of reciprocity between Sabah, Sarawak and the peninsula.
“On this spirit, leaders and the people of Sabah and Sarawak surely realise that there are also states in the peninsula that need help from the federal government.
“I’m confident that the people of Sabah and Sarawak feel at ease and accepted in Peninsular Malaysia as their presence there faces no encumbrances,” he said, adding that he believed this had successfully strengthened ties.
Dr Mahathir said it was this closeness that had helped Malaysia to withstand times when differences of opinion cropped up between leaders of the three territories.
“If in 1957, we freed the Federation of Malaya from colonisation, then merged in 1963 to strengthen our sovereignty, 2018 is the year where we had our second independence and teamed up against the era of kleptocracy.
“It’s true. The journey is not always smooth and orderly. Sometimes, we stumble and lose our way. But what matters is our ability to pick ourselves up and return to the right path.
“The 14th general election has shown our ability to get up after going astray from the track that we have built years ago,” he added.
Rousing welcome: Dr Mahathir arriving at Padang Merdeka with Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal, Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo and other government leaders for the Malaysia Day celebration in Kota Kinabalu.