KUALA LUMPUR: To resolve key misgivings on the rights of Sabah and Sarawak under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) – this is the main highlight among 21 specific pledges for the two Borneo states in the Barisan Nasional manifesto.
The manifesto states that the rights of Sabah and Sarawak under the MA63 will be realised by consensus.
The issue on the rights of the two states’ under the Federation is the most contentious among all political parties in Sabah and Sarawak.
The inclusion of the MA63 in the manifesto was welcomed by groups advocating for state rights.
Sabah MCA deputy chairman Datuk Francis Goh said it was “wonderful” that the MA63 has been included in the Barisan manifesto.
“The resolution on this issue has been long awaited by Sabahans,’’ he added.
Goh said the MA63’s inclusion in the Barisan manifesto proved that the feelings of Sabahans were taken seriously.
“As such, I hope Sabahans will give Barisan the mandate for another five years to fulfil this promise,’’ he added.
He also welcomed the pledge to boost the standard of English through various initiatives such as the Dual Language Programme (DLP), and the incorporation of more historical facts and perspectives from Sabah and Sarawak to enhance the History syllabus.
He said the DLP was among the issues that he had pushed for.
“It will benefit our children. We must acknowledge that English is an international language and failure to grasp it will cause us to lag in many aspects,” Goh said.
MySabah legal adviser Fuad Tengku Ahmad gave the thumbs up to the inclusion of the MA63 in the manifesto, saying this reflected the commitment of the Federal Government to resolve outstanding concerns involving the formation of Malaysia.
MySabah, an apolitical grouping of prominent Sabahans, has been making recommendations to the state and Federal governments on issues pertaining to state rights.
Fuad said he was confident in the Barisan’s pledge because Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had proceeded with the constitutional review of Sabah’s two-fifths (40%) Special Grant, which is in line with MA63.
“This alone demonstrates Najib’s sincerity and commitment towards Sabah and Sarawak’s rights and for that, he deserves our support,” he said.
The manifesto also sees Barisan pledging to deliver “across the board” for Sabah and Sarawak, covering infrastructure development, multimedia, transportation, power generation, and upgrading Sabah’s sewerage system.
Both states have been pledged RM2bil to improve telecommunications, RM2.3bil to expand power supply, and RM4.3bil for the Trans Sabah Gas Pipeline project.
Among others, the coalition also vowed to provide funds to promote and preserve native culture, literature and languages such as Iban and Kadazandusun.
In Kuching, parents said they looked forward to the opportunity of sending their children to English-medium public schools.
Engineering manager Alexander Gabriel, 36, said that he would have enrolled his three children in such a school if one had been available.
His two boys and daughter are presently studying in Chinese schools.
“It is never too late to introduce English-medium public schools for future generations and I hope many such schools will be set up,” he said.
Finance clerk Aishah Noor Abdullah, 28, did not think English-medium schools would affect the learning of the national language.
“Bahasa Malaysia is widely used in our daily lives especially with people of other races.
“Even if we study in English-medium schools, if Bahasa Malaysia is taught well, it should not be a problem,” she said