SARAWAK will set up a consultative committee to advise the
state’s representatives in the Federal Government’s Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) steering committee.
The state legislative assembly unanimously approved a motion to form the committee, which will be chaired by Sarawak Speaker Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar.
Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, who tabled the motion, said the committee would determine and agree on recommendations to safeguard Sarawak’s interests, rights and position under MA63 and the Federal Constitution and to meet the expectations of Sarawakians for greater autonomy and devolution of powers.
This comes after the Federal Cabinet decided on Sept 5 to set up the MA63 steering committee chaired by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Abdul Karim said the steering committee’s composition was “extremely lopsided” with 11 members representing the Federal Government and “only two each” representing Sabah and Sarawak.
Sarawak is represented by Chief Minister Datuk Abang Johari Tun Openg and state attorney-general Datuk Talat Mahmood Abdul Rashid. Works Minister Baru Bian, a Sarawakian, is also in the steering committee.
“Bearing in mind the subject matters under the purview of the MA63 committee relate to the special rights and position of Sarawak, it is imperative that a mechanism be put in place to ensure the views and aspirations of Sarawakians are incorporated into the representations to be submitted on behalf of the state to the MA63 committee,” Abdul Karim said.
He said the committee would comprise state assemblymen from all political parties as this was a matter close to the hearts of all Sarawakians irrespective of political allegiance.
“I urge all members of this august House to support this motion to send the strongest message possible that in the matter of the rights and interests of Sarawakians, the people of Sarawak firmly stand as one,” he added.
Baru, who is PKR’s Ba’Kelalan assemblyman, said the opposition members “fully supported” the motion as it was consistent with the Federal Cabinet’s decision to review the implementation of MA63.
“I’m sure that this consultative committee will be of great help to the Federal steering committee.
“May I propose that the committee make periodic reports to this House to ensure that all members are fully briefed on its deliberations, proceedings and advice to the MA63 committee,” he said when debating the motion.