KUCHING: An amendment to the Federal Constitution is the first step towards implementing the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and restoring Sabah and Sarawak's status as equal partners, says de facto law minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong.
He said this was necessary because Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution was amended in 1976 to downgrade Sabah and Sarawak as the 12th and 13th states instead of equal partners with Peninsular Malaysia.
"This is very important. We want to restore it to pre-1976 (status) to make us equal partners. Once this is done, I think the rest will follow.
"We have to start with this first. Then we can talk about oil royalty, equal distribution and regional development," he told reporters after meeting the Advocates Association of Sarawak here on Monday (Oct 8).
As any amendment to the Federal Constitution requires a two-thirds majority in Parliament before it can be passed, Liew said he would reach out to opposition MPs for their support.
"I met some of them in the last Parliament session and tonight (Oct 8) I'll be meeting some more. It's an ongoing process.
"I think when it comes to MA63, no one will say no," he said.
Liew also said the line-up and terms of reference of the special Cabinet committee on MA63 would be presented at the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday (Oct 10) for approval.
He said it would comprise a steering committee chaired by the Prime Minister with members including the chief ministers of Sabah and Sarawak, a technical committee and a working committee.
"The working committee will do all the preliminary work for the technical committee to look at and make necessary adjustments before it goes to the steering committee.
"Once that is done, we will see the implementation of the Malaysia Agreement," he said.