KOTA KINABALU: Sabah state rights under the Malaysian Agreement 1963 is expected to be included in Barisan Nasional's manifesto for the coming general election, said Datuk Seri Anifah Aman.
The Foreign Minister said this clearly showed that Barisan was committed to resolving issues on state rights as aspired by the people, and not a political game as the Opposition claims.
Sabah hoped to make some progress on issues pertaining to the 40% revenue rights for the state that is provided by the Federal Constitution as part of the safeguards under the Malaysia Agreement.
"We are focusing on revenue rights. We hope to make some progress before the election. The process is complex and not a simple task," he told reporters after meeting the media and members of state rights group MySabah.
Anifah jointly chairs the steering committee on devolution of powers to Sabah and Sarawak at federal level, together with Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri.
He said the process was long but it had already begun with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak committed towards ensuring that state rights that might have been taken away or diluted – knowingly or unknowingly – would be re-instated.
"Our Prime Minister has committed this to the people of Sabah and we are working towards it," Anifah said, adding that unlike former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the issue of state rights was never recognised or allowed to be discussed.
"Everyone knows (opposition Sabah STAR president) Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan was detained under the Internal Security Act (in 1991) in Kamunting for raising the state rights issue. Dr Jeffrey was a lone voice but got no way forward.
"We are not going to confront the government but work with them.
"Today, as a Sabahan, I believe Najib is the first PM who is willing to listen and work with us on the issue," he said.
He also questioned whether Dr Mahathir, who is Pakatan Harapan chairman, was sincere when he said that the coalition would restore Sabah and Sarawak rights.